T&M Tank is Taylor and Matt’s Tank. It’s a 20g long. Build started September 3, 2023. It’s gone through one crash and many newbie mistakes. Come with us as I update this thread to see what we learn and how we solved or attempted to solve problems as they arose. It’s been a long journey from then to now, but from a newbie standpoint, I love the tank now and the knowledge and journey it’s had. Cheers to T&M!

This is the first night of setting it up. I was super excited as I’m a fresh newbie, and Matt has had a couple tanks in the past. Roughly 3years has lapsed since his last setup.
We had sold a car and decided to cave in on getting a tank. So, we went to Petco for supplies (yes I know, almost everything got upgraded later on).
We got a 20g aqueon long, aqueon filter, heater, wave maker, sand, rock, decor (which ended up being taken out), salt, water, starter, and two lights if my memory is correct. . .
After finally getting it all setup and laid out how we want it, we filled her up and spent all night discussing future plans and researching inhabitants for it.
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This was September 4, 2023. Yes one day after setting it up. This is another mistake I think we had. I’ve heard of adding to fish help cycle but I think this was too many and wasn’t researched enough before adding them. It was a neon blue goby and three bagaii cardinal. At this point I think we added fish food, a test kit, siphon, glass magnet to supplies.
I quickly fell in love with saltwater fish and was still hesitant on corals. I didn’t really get the hype on them. If I had to change anything at this point it would be better equipment and maybe one fish. Also a better understanding of proper cycling which I didn’t understand at all then.
 
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These were taken September 25, 2023. I don’t remember which day exactly, but I came home from work and Matt said he had a surprise for me. I looked in the tank and there was a kenya, 2 mushrooms(one with Xenia), toadstool, and a birds nest I think. I wasn’t too thrilled on them because, again, I didn’t get the hype of coral… but I was excited to have some more color. A little after that we went to the local lfs and looked at all her tanks and coral. I started to really like all the colors and looks of coral. I decided I really wanted a Goni. Yes, this was another mistake- Adding too much coral in a less than a month old tank that isn’t cycled. We also added a jebao scp wavemaker and an ato off of Amazon. Also had another light from Petco which ended up being one for plants not reef, but we kept it on there to disperse light more. We added CUC of astraea snails and two blue leg hermits. I want to say at this point we lost one of the cardinals too, because again, newbie and uneducated mistake, bangaii school in small, uncycled tank.
 
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This was on October 8, 2023. I was so excited the Goni was extending and looked way better. It still wasn’t as extended as when we got it from the lfs, but at this point I don’t believe the tank was fully cycled yet. You can really start to see the algae come in too.
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In these 5 photos it was October 21, 2023. We took out that big coral decor piece because it looked raunchy as hell. Plus it was just too big. We also rearranged the scape. Tank still wasn’t cycled I think. We lost another bangaii, added a Talbot and I can’t remember if we had a bicolor Blenny or not in there at this point yet either. Added a pink birds nest which was a disaster, same for the bicolor. It was starting to come together but was still very discouraged and felt bad for rushing into it. I think we tried chemipure to try to help with the algae and clarity as well at this point. Might’ve added nassarius at this point or shortly after.
 
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These were taken November 12, 2023. Diatom and cyanno really started to pop up then. As you can see there’s only the cardinal and goby left. I think the bicolor bullied the Talbot and caused the Talbot to hide and not eat, along with the tank cycling process too. The bicolor followed along shortly after. Found him one day splotchy and pale. I think the parameters got to him. The birdnest is looking like crap. We didn’t know if it was parameters, light, flow, or what but it was probably all three looking back now. Wasn’t dosing calcium, the nitrites and ammonia still present, nitrates were elevated. Ph and alk were lower than recommended too. I think at this point we might’ve tried to dose to bump those two up and then some ammonia remover. Didn’t work though.
 
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The next few posts are photo dumps- a lot of pics taken after this. I’ll start with November 23, 2023. IMG_8954.jpeg IMG_8956.jpeg IMG_8957.jpeg IMG_8958.jpeg IMG_8960.jpeg IMG_8967.jpeg
My birthday was November 19th and so I went to the lfs and got some more coral. We also added a bar goby and a saltwater molly. This was a huge add to the tank. The day after we went to a different one and got even more coral. It was my birthday/black Friday so of course we needed stuff…not. We upgraded our light to a smatfarm light off of Amazon and we like it. It’s customizable and was budget friendly. Par was good too. The tanks looking better. I think the ammonia was zero here but the nitrates and phos was elevated. Still have the nasty diatoms.
 
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Ok this is a huge dump. Taken November 24, 2023. This was Black Friday. We ended up adding a conch to the CUC. There was many corals added the last two days …Goni, Kenya, muchroom, chalice, birdsnest, torch, frogspawn, acan, bernardpora, zoa, clove, toadstool, spongode, monti cap, monti aquaman…
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These are from November 26- December 3, 2023. This is where we found out about the local auction wholesaler. Oh boy was I addicted at this point. The tank was already full and I just HAD to have more. This round of the auction had a feather duster, hammers, acan, gonis, favias, gsp, zoas… we’ve also added 2 turbo snails. The blue leg hermit has grown so much since we first added him. At this point he’s molted at least 4x. Everything was going good we started dosing and upgraded from the Petco wave maker to a small nano one on Amazon. Right around this point the saltwater molly passed. We have had the worst luck with fish. I’m obsessed with gonis and I think my favorite inhabitants are the neon goby and hermit. I loved my Talbot too before it passed. Those are my favorite damsels.
 

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This is from December 5-17th, 2023. We added an acro, chalice, monti beach bum, Goni and some chromis… everything was going good. A few things weren’t too happy but for the most part we were so happy and in love with this tank. That was until new years…
 

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January 2-5th, 2024-
This is the aftermath of Christmas vacation. This was our biggest mistake yet- assuming everything will be fine and dandy. Right before Christmas our tank was looking fantastic. We loved the way it looked. For Christmas we decided to go to Canada to visit his family. We had our mom look after the tank while we were gone. We went over everything with her that is absolutely important like what to dose to keep up dkh/ph and to feed, etc. I sent pictures to let her know “hey this is what so and so should look like if it doesn’t let me know” or “this is what we have in there fish wise if you don’t see them let me know”. The first couple days she said everything was fine. She’d take pictures best she could and video call. Around day 3/4 she noticed the euphyllia acting funny. They were closing up. We were unsure what the cause was. We just assumed it was the lighting because she would either go in the morning when the light just came on or in the evening when it was almost moon light. Well were we wrong. Now we don’t have an apex or trident or anything like that so we couldn’t just pull up alerts and such which is another error I feel like we’ve had along the way (continuous monitoring to ensure tank stability). What had happened was the ATO came unplugged. When we got home the water level was a good 3inches from where the top off was so Matt quickly topped it off. He didn’t realize the salinity swing like that could/would/had damaged the inhabitants even more. The ato was flashing and also beeping but we never thought to tell our mom to watch the water level because we didn’t think something like that would happen. This situation added onto an already stressed aquarist was devastating. We ended up losing everything but 5 coral- yellow Goni, two big orange zoas, two toadstools, 2 fish- neon and bar goby, and 2 inverts- a blue leg hermit and one turbo. Sheesh. Talk about depressing. Although I am very shocked the Goni pulled through…out of the 5 *face palm*. Everything slowly turned to skeleton or succumbed to the parameter swing. We tried to turn down the lights and flow and just leave it be but it’s frustrating just sitting there wanting to dose this or that or change this to try to help. This this has been ROUGH. And I mean rough. The first image is is the rock flower we had detached and miraculously stuck itself to our nassarius. The pics to follow are corals and how they looked which almost all died or got pulled before it got worse.
 

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These are all after February 2nd, 2024 to now May 13th, 2024. The progress of the yellow Goni and orange zoas were amazing. The zoas actually spread onto one of the toadstool rubble rocks! Our current inhabitant list is: 1 Talbot, 1 neon goby, 1 bar goby, 1 cleaner shrimp, 2 blue leg hermit, 1 turbo, 5 trochus, 2-3 nassarius, 2 Goni, 1 lepto, 1 gonastrea, 2 torches, 2 toadstools, 2 zoas, 1 mushroom, 1 acro, 1 favia. Matt added one of the old lights we had before the upgrade to the other side of the tank to kind of balance out the shadows, which I kinda wish he’d just center the light to begin with but ya know what do I know lol. We also added a uv sterilizer this year to help with algae we had which why didn’t we have it to begin with omg. We love the tank now and both think we should take it slow and focus on our next build coming later this year when I get out of physical rehab.

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Weekly update:
Everything is going great! Matt believes the favia we have is beginning to grow another head or split. The shrimp is adjusting perfectly! The fish are still skittish of him but he’s found his little area he likes and crawled a little on Matt’s finger. The Talbot photobombed the shrimp lol but it’s ok we got a video of both of our favorite inhabitants rn. We added mysis as a food option and I believe that will be the main course from now on. Everyone’s loving it! Parameters are testing fine, alk a little low at 7.7 but Matt’s gonna dose tonight and bump that up. Nitrates at 15 and he wants that a bit lower but I don’t see an issue with it. Ph was 8.0. He tested at night after everything’s consumed it and before dosing, but everything is on track. We have two blue leg hermits and the big one has been an og from the beginning. He is always crawling over everything and would often “ride” the conch when we had one. Looks like he’s teaching little blue his ways lol.

But yeah nothing major going on with T&M for the moment, which I’ll take that lol. Much rather ride steady than the waves.

Any one have any question/input/recommendations on anything? Any livestock you think we should add or any equipment we should look into? IMG_5940.jpeg IMG_5986.jpeg IMG_0144.jpeg
 
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Another weekly update:
Everything is smooth sailing except for our acro. Matt was hesitant to try one again but I got it cheap enough to give it a shot. Well, my plan back fired. We’re not sure what’s going on with it but it’s expelling Zooxanthellae. Matt says “Honestly it’s had a small white spot for over a month but otherwise good color and poly extension but that stn has just traveled and traveled instead of stopping.” “I thought it was shock from when we first put it in but I feel like if that were the case it would have passed. It’s possible it was just stress related from shipment, it’s possible it was a weaker frag because of size, it’s possible we shocked it a little during the transfer cause who knows what the ALK of the water in the bag really is, couple drops of your water isn’t gunna be enough to equalize that. I wouldn’t really say with confidence it’s something we did unless we had like 3/5 frags ALL of different acros go down at once.” So that’s a bummer. He’s gonna throw in the uv tonight and run that for a bit to cut back on cloudiness/algae since it’s starting to pop up again. But the zoas are spreading, the shrimp is enjoying his new home, and our yellow goni seems to be extending more and popping out more heads! So that’s awesome. As far as equipment/supplies go we added mysis to the mix and they love that and then our little wave pump got clogged with coraline and salt so Matt had to rinse that off which killed the coralline on it but I think it’s ok I’d rather have working equipment.
 

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Weekly update time!
Not much to report. Everything is going good! Only new thing I would say is we found a critter crawling on a rock. Not sure what it is, I thought maybe stomatella or chiton. It’s hard to say since that’s the only pic Matt took. Our shrimps molted a few times so not sure if that’s a good or bad sign.
 

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Weekly update:
Some unfortunate news this week. Our bar goby is not doing good at all. I am thinking it won’t survive much longer. We have a 10g trying to quick cycle for an observation/quarantine but not sure if it will be done in time. It has not been eating and the talbot has been chasing the poor thing around the tank. I was unaware of just how bad my tank was doing until I returned home on Friday from being in a rehab facility due to car accident almost 4 months ago. Very sad news.
 
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Time for an updateeee! Nothing too exciting going on. We added some coral since the last update. A pink birds best, red digitata, toxic pie chalice, blastos, and Kenya tree. Today we got some fuel for the corals to try out so hopefully that will help boost them.
 

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