Tips for a lazy/cheap reefer?

BRS

Miamialum620

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I’ve been in the hobby for a few years now and have had mix success. If I’m being honest mainly negative. I’ll have periods where I feel like things are going well and I’m getting things figured out and then I’ll find something dead or see corals not opening like they used to. I really don’t want to quit the hobby but I’m hitting a bit of a wall. I’d love to get great gear that’s automated when it comes to testing, dosing, and water changes. With work, kids and knowing the type of person I am, daily dosing, testing, and maintenance just isn’t happening. I know some people are going to read this and scoff but I’m sure I’m not the only one out there.

I guess I’m looking for tips to help automate things and keep me in the hobby without breaking the budget. For example if I’m going to dose something what should it be and what’s an affordable/good doser for a 32g biocube?

Any general advice for when you hit a reefing wall would be greatly appreciated.
 
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andiesreef

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i love the jebao/jecod doser for my 20g. the 2-headed one i bought for $55 which is good for a dosing pump. no issues yet.

it might be worth getting an ato to keep things stable. an ink bird heating controller can also help keep, well, the heat in line.
 

Lost in the Sauce

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I fully understand your reluctance to testing every day. I absolutely refuse to. With that being said, I can run my full testing panel on two tanks in about half an hour.

This hobby does require a time commitment. What that commitment looks like is different for every reef here. Can you commit 30 minutes a week? An hour? 4?

Real life takes priority, but prioritizing what is important to you may help. Many reefers don't test. Like ever.

I've found that I need to commit Saturday morning, a few hours to maintenance. I wake up before everyone and get to work.

Look luck homie.
 

Revnobody

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IMO you can be lazy or cheap but not both. If you prefer laziness, then you will need equipment to automate. If you want cheap, you will have to do things manually. It does take commitment to be in this hobby. But there are definitely things you can do to fit your personality and lifestyle. For example, you could do a FOWLR tank or a softie tank and have a successful tank at a much lower cost.

Best of luck finding something that works for you. :)

Edit: As for ease of dosing, All For Reef and a cheap doser is about as easy as it gets. Test ALK once a week and refill your doser.
 

JCTReefer

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Dosers and an ATO are on the top of my list for making things easier. Fill up my one gallon dosing containers about once every 6 months. My alk consumption doesn’t change much. Set it and forget it once dialed in. Test alk maybe once a month. I refuse to test every day. Work all day and that’s the last thing I wanna do. Lol. Top off my ATO once a month on the 54 and once every two weeks on the 210. When I was dosing manually I would forget sometimes. And then my days would run together. Couldn’t remember if I dosed that day or not. Or was it the day before. Haha. I don’t want to be a slave to my tank, so I only keep LPS and softies. They’re my preference anyways. Busy life, busy schedule, kids in school, blah blah. It does suck when you have a coral that doesn’t seem to be doing well. And then you lose it for reasons unknown.
 
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fish farmer

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What are you trying to keep alive?

I agree a softy tank can be "neglected" and grow plenty of things.

My first reef was a 38 gallon with a sump. All I dosed(dripped/ATO) was kalk, I did weekly testing of a few things and did 5 gallon WC every other week. I grew lots of softies and LPS, I don't think I had anything die in that tank for the two years it was running.

My current tank is a 29 gallon with sump, similar routine now, but I do let the WC slide sometimes, I will get a bit of GHA because of it. I dose kalk with a BRS doser, light timer and a sealed container of kalk. Sometimes I'll add some Mg or Reef Builder by hand if my numbers are low. Mushrooms, nepthia, hammers, zoas and a couple of favias doing well. A couple of easy SPS are growing too. I also have a separate ATO which is a Ultralife Tank Boss hooked to a mag pump in a plastic container.

I think for me getting out of the lull is improving the setup, like you are thinking of dosing, I did dosing improvements and sump redesign. I also built a better setup for mixing saltwater in my basement. Things that make the tasks easier.
 

LordofCinder

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OR, you can always just simplify the hobby and just let your tank exist. Stop testing and dosing. There is a whole school of thought in this hobby that thinks dosing is overrated anyway. You have a small tank, it would be easy to do biweekly water changes. You will be surprised how much a tank can thrive without so much fretting over it everyday.
 

ying yang

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I’ve been in the hobby for a few years now and have had mix success. If I’m being honest mainly negative. I’ll have periods where I feel like things are going well and I’m getting things figured out and then I’ll find something dead or see corals not opening like they used to. I really don’t want to quit the hobby but I’m hitting a bit of a wall. I’d love to get great gear that’s automated when it comes to testing, dosing, and water changes. With work, kids and knowing the type of person I am, daily dosing, testing, and maintenance just isn’t happening. I know some people are going to read this and scoff but I’m sure I’m not the only one out there.

I guess I’m looking for tips to help automate things and keep me in the hobby without breaking the budget. For example if I’m going to dose something what should it be and what’s an affordable/good doser for a 32g biocube?

Any general advice for when you hit a reefing wall would be greatly appreciated.
I cant give advice on equipment as i really no experience but something for you,you reaching out for help in this thread so this tells me you still enjoy reefing and want to continue but struggling a bit,so try concentrate when your tank was doing good and remember the joy it gave you and if was doing something different to know then go back to how you was doing it.i wish you all the luck finding the answers to your concerns, im no expert in reefing but in life in general things start to go wrong and if we meddle with them it can cause extra problems so with regards to corals not opening like they used to ,maybe they just having a bad day ? So leave them be and keep doing whats needed and maybe coral be great the day after.
I read alot threads here and often i read unless drastic problem starting just keep hands out.
 

ying yang

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OR, you can always just simplify the hobby and just let your tank exist. Stop testing and dosing. There is a whole school of thought in this hobby that thinks dosing is overrated anyway. You have a small tank, it would be easy to do biweekly water changes. You will be surprised how much a tank can thrive without so much fretting over it everyday.
You just saying what i was trying to say but i often babble on to long and dont get to the point but my point exactly what you said.
As what im reading is as our tanks matute they can get by with little interference from ourselves,( ovbiously if not got corals that require extra attention whatever that maybe ) ^_&
 

attiland

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IMO you can be lazy or cheap but not both. If you prefer laziness, then you will need equipment to automate. If you want cheap, you will have to do things manually. It does take commitment to be in this hobby. But there are definitely things you can do to fit your personality and lifestyle. For example, you could do a FOWLR tank or a softie tank and have a successful tank at a much lower cost.

Best of luck finding something that works for you. :)

Edit: As for ease of dosing, All For Reef and a cheap doser is about as easy as it gets. Test ALK once a week and refill your doser.
+1 for ATO and dozer. In this order
All for reef is good for small tanks in my opinion, but I add alk and mg on top.
 
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MNFish

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Bulk reef supply now sells mix yourself TM all for reef it is a single solution to dosing:

And the X1 is on sale for 47:

I use this on the 13.5 gallon EVO.

I do not feel a biocube needs an ATO since it is sealed so well, I do not have one on my EVO as I use the stock light and it does not evaporate enough to make any difference.
 

reefinatl

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Sps and don't got time or money = dead sticks. Hell even if you good money and time they are still risky.

LPS you can really do okay with a regular water change interval and almost never testing once established.

Softies? Well I've done 1 5 gallon waterchange on my 13.5 fluval in the last 5 months. Kenya tree, xenia, green paly, yellow polyps, are all fine. He'll if I can figure out a way to kill those off I'm going to box it up and sell it.
 

Reef and Dive

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IMO you can be lazy or cheap but not both
Agree. You can automate a lot of things, or you can be extra careful, lacking both is usually more dangerous.

Having a small bioload, specially of fish could help with easier care.

You can also try cheaper automatation like coralbox doser (I’ve had some and they worked pretty well for years) and a simple coel for temperature control.

But cheaper equipment often comes with a greater risk of failure, so try to have redundancies and simulate what would happen to the tank with every possible failure.

For tests: as soon as you check alk often (once a week) and make equal part dosing I would say it is pretty ok to skip most other tests for a while. The next one I would put on the routine would be phosphate…
 

Tamberav

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I only test alk with my hannah tester about once a week. The other tests don't seem to matter that much. It's a mixed tank with a rock of acropora too. I just went for the hardier stuff like oregon tort, walt disney, pc rainbow, slimer, cliffs acro, rainbow stylo, digi's, mili's, tenius, most anything old school (red planet, bonsai, pearlberry, ect), and monti's. So no way is SPS off the table for a lazy reefer.

My tank was pretty cheap and I am also lazy :) I bought used ATI t5 fixture and there are affordable dosers. My skimmer was used but mostly use a fuge and well... caulerpa is cheap... one little piece, a cheap shop light and away you go. I have jeabo wavemakers (a few tunze too) for several years now and they still work. Tunze was obviously expensive but the jeabo is working too.

You don't need to do water changes often if you have enough export. I use a 20g fuge full of fast growing macro.

Really on a 32g you dont need to dose or test and you could just do water changes every week. On my big tank I dose and do water change every 3 months instead.

Most things and products we don't need. Tanks existed before them.
 
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Dragonsreef

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I have a few tanks and i definitely dont have time to test all of them consistently or afford controllers for all of them. I give the most attention to my sps dominant tank but my others i rarely touch and test maybe once a month or so.

My idea behind them is good nutrient export and dose alkalinity calcium and magnesium. If you can remove all the nitrates and phosphates that are created by the tank and replenish the elements used up then you dont need to do water changes nearly as often. I feel theyre the most work when the mixing station cant be near the tank. So make sure you have a good size refugium or algae scrubber and properly sized skimmer. Keep the fish stocking on the light-average side. If you overstock and cant keep up with the nitrates and phosphates youll have to do water changes more frequently. You have to test alot at first to setup dosing and refugium lighting etc but once you get them balanced its mostly hands off and only do changes if theres a problem.

So as for equipment, a diy algae scrubber can be a cheap way to remove nutrients. If you have the space refugiums are best. Cheap doser would be a jabeo and theyre pretty reliable. Mines been running a year now with no issue. As for dosing brs 2 part is the cheapest and probably best way to go. I prefer triton method though, its replenishs the trace elements that 2 part doesnt cover. It does cost more though.
 
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Miamialum620

Miamialum620

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Here are a couple of pics of the tank. It’s a mixed reef with mainly Zoas, lps, and a couple of sps. There are areas like Nero 3, AI prime, and 6 stage ro/di that I’ve dropped money on kind of hoping that they would be enough. Someone mentioned a good point of not being a slave to their tanks and that’s exactly how I feel. Getting a few affordable dosers like kamoer x1 sounds like a good idea. I have 2 full bottles of brightwell 2 part calcium/alkalinity. I’m guessing I’d need a doser for each bottle. Ato is another one I’ve been debating. The trick is going to be fitting it in the biocube stand.


F4546DAE-1E76-4215-8E1E-780C82CF4CBF.jpeg
8DDF8BD4-0131-4843-A634-A9B313BEB7AA.jpeg
 

coralfishreef

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What is your actual routine? What are you testing daily? I have 4 tanks and I mainly check Alk once a week and Salinity 2 - 3 times a week. Testing doesn’t need to be performed as often once you figure out your tank’s baseline parameters and natural state.

If you want an less stressful tank then stick with soft corals. LPS can seemingly randomly recede, die, or get brown jelly. SPS aren’t forgiving if you have an accident like spiking Alk or Salinity, but I find, in general, SPS are much easier to grow than LPS, but this could because my tanks tend to run at ultra low nutrient levels.

Automation can help with some of the chores and with stability, but it can be pricey. I didn’t know just how much I needed an AWC setup until I had one. Among the best $300 I’ve ever spent.

How old is the tank? The rocks and sand look very clean. I’ve found that reef tanks become very stable and much easier to take care of after around 14 months. If that tank is older, maybe the corals are starving. The natural state for most of my tanks is at near zero detectable nutrients levels. I’m dosing Acropower and phytoplankton twice a day to keep corals alive and growing.
 

Dburr1014

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ATO and timers. They keep things stable and constant.
Charcoal. Soaks up softies stuff they exude. I don't use it all the time. 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off is kinda how I do it.
My last time I had a problem was when I was testing a lot. I didn't check the salinity for a few weeks. Well when I pull out water to test and the ato puts in fresh, my salinity dropped. Stupid me didn't think it would matter too much, it's only a little water, it went down. Corals looked bad. I went a few days before I figured it out, fixed it, didn't lose anything. 1.026 and 1.021 is a big difference. Make sure you test that even in water changes.
 

schooncw

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So, I'm not lazy or "cheap" but try to be efficient. My 120 gallon softie tank looks great and is waaay overstocked and over fed. I run a decent skimmer; biopellet reactor; GFO reactor; Tunze Macro Algae reactor; another reactor w 4 liters of SeaChem denitrate at very low flow and do regular water changes with decent salt.
And I use Toronto tap water.


1626964057448.png




1626963840155.png
 
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Appoloreefer

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IMO you can be lazy or cheap but not both. If you prefer laziness, then you will need equipment to automate. If you want cheap, you will have to do things manually. It does take commitment to be in this hobby. But there are definitely things you can do to fit your personality and lifestyle. For example, you could do a FOWLR tank or a softie tank and have a successful tank at a much lower cost.

Best of luck finding something that works for you. :)

Edit: As for ease of dosing, All For Reef and a cheap doser is about as easy as it gets. Test ALK once a week and refill your doser.
This is why I went with an all softie tank because I do not want to be dosing and have all that extra work for I am busy but can dedicate an hour or two a week. It is a 125 gallon and it will be filled with nothing but soft corals. Not many people in the reef hobby have all softie tanks anymore and I am trying to bring it back plus I love soft corals.
 
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