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Finally going to the salty side


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#1 sde09001

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Posted 25 January 2012 - 02:42 PM

Hey everyone. After 10 years or so working with freshwater I'm finally setting up my first salt water tank. I've been researching for months now and finally decided to go for it now that my betta breeding is put on hold. I cleaned out my 10g breeder and am converting it over to a nano reef. As of right now It's filled and has 5 pieces of dead rock as base, a petco 160 powerhead for circulation, crushed coral base about 1 inch deep, and a box air filter that will be turned into a "pod pile" eventually. I added the salt today and plugged in the powerhead so get the salinity to where I want it before adding any live rock to start the cycle. I added 545g of salt, which if my calculations are correct it should result in a sg of 1.022. I'm planning on getting LED lighting if I can support the corals I want with it. Filtration will be the live rock/sand with the circulation. Temp is 79.8 with a marineland stealth heater.
On to a few questions I have. The powerhead won't stay attached to the glass. The top two suction cups keep popping off for not apparent reason. Any suggestions so it doesn't keep angling down into the coral and blowing it around? Also I just added in a swim arm hydrometer, I know refractometers are better but I figure for just starting out and staying on a budget this will be good enough. It's all the way at the top of the gauge. I knocked off all of the bubbles I could find and it's still up there. I know it says it takes 24 hours to "season" but is it normal to be high and then settle once its seasoned? Another question I have is about lighting. I want to do corals, mostly softies but possibly some SPS, so is LED lighting capable of supporting them? I want to make this tank as green as possible, and I've read adn heard alot of mixed reviews about LEDs and corals. I figure since it's a 10g tank none of the corals will be a significant distance away from the lights so even the ones on the bottom will get enough light if I use two LED strips. I'll post some pics once I can get my camera charged again, its' not much to look at right now since there's nothing living in it, but I'm hoping this is will a great first step into salt water. I know corals aren't typically considered beginner animals, but I feel as long as you are didcated adn do enough research even novices can do will with harder animals from the get go.

#2 sde09001

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 10:41 AM

Update:
Bought two large pieces of live rock from Petco the other day (only pet store around and I had a coupon). Looks good right now and I see two sea squirts and there's some weird looking slug thing and a few tiny snails. Also got a scoop of live sand from a store back home to try adn get a starter culture of pods but I can't see any swimming around. I raised the salinity becuase I forgot to factor in temperature in my equations so now I'm at 32 ppt. Temp is stable at 81.2, and I finally got the power head to stick (ended up getting it to stick kiddy corner and hanging on only two suction cups but it's not budging 2 days later when before it would fall after 2 hours). I can't find my camera cord so I'm going to try out my phone's camera and post the pics here after I'm done writing this. I currently have an old 24" florescent tube light over the tank until I can get the LED set up I want which will be later this week once I get my tax return. I'm just debating how long I should wait before adding a clean up crew. I don't see algae yet and I"m afraid they might go after the pods I'm trying to harvest (the crabs specifically but I'm looking for herbivorous species). I'm also debating how long after I get the lights I could start adding corals. I'm looking at colony polyps, sound like a good beginner coral?

#3 sde09001

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 11:09 AM

As promised here are some pics. I figured out what my slug thing is, a stomatella. COol little bugger, nice to know it's harmless. Couldn't get a pic of it though.
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Edited by sde09001, 28 January 2012 - 11:11 AM.


#4 sde09001

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Posted 31 January 2012 - 11:00 AM

No input?
Anyway I purchased a Wave Point Micro Sun LED fixture to see how the LEDs would do. The store I go them from was very interested to see how they did so they gave me a free frag of zoas to test them out with. It's much more blue than I expected, but it makes sense since the ration of blue to white LEDS is 2:1. I ordered two sets of white LED "moon lights" to try and increase the white coloration so I won't have a perpetual blue tank. So far the coral looks fine. Very bright neon green in color. The first day only about half of the polyps opened up after acclimation, but yesterday all of them were open, but not fully open. The frag also came with a little feather duster worm who seems to be doing fine. I'm feeding the tank with BBS every other day for the critters that have come in on rocks and I haven't noticed any deaths. I now have 3 stomatella (not sure if they were hiding or if I had two that reproduced already) and I"m starting to see pods crawling around on the rocks. So far everything seems to be turning out fine but I'll keep you all updated. I'll get some pics in the next few days if time allows.

#5 Synirr

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Posted 31 January 2012 - 01:56 PM

You are wise to start off slow, since your tank is primarily base rock. As I'm sure you know, live rock is your primary biofilter in saltwater, and it will take several months for your base rock to become well colonized with beneficial bacteria and other microorganisms. It definitely looks like things are headed in the right direction though!

Most reefkeepers appreciate a lighting spectrum that is a little on the bluer side because many corals fluoresce under actinic lighting. The bluer the light, the more the colors pop, especially if you have a tank with a lot of blues and greens. What looks too blue now may be perfect once you've got more coral in the tank, so keep that in mind. I LOVE LED lighting, but the quality and intensity of the light varies tremendously by make and manufacturer. Almost anything will support zoanthids, mushrooms, and other easy soft corals, but if you want to get into stony corals you will need to invest in something much brighter. Ecoxotic makes great lights that are incredibly thin, come in a variety of colors, and could be mounted to your current fixture to add additional lighting. Innovative Marine is another good manufacturer that has some cute little clamp lamps for nano setups.

#6 sde09001

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Posted 31 January 2012 - 02:44 PM

I was looking at the ecoxotics before purchasing the fixture I have now as one of the guys at the LFS I go to loves them. I decided to start off on the cheaper side since after getting everything needed from them it would be almost double what I paid for my current lights. Now that I know I can actually install their lights in the fixture I have now though I'll look into getting some in the future, but it's going to be a while until I try anything other than softies. I just developed another question though. I was recently told to actually try a ball of chaeto in the box filter for creating a pod pile, but I also read that LEDs don't put out the right spectrum for algae to grow (which I assumed was why all the freshwater tanks my fiance has with LEDs don't have any algae). Would this mean the chaeto would die under the LEDs, or is it different for a macro algae than a micro? Also would the chaeto take too many nutrients out of the water and away from the corals? I haven't bought any coral rubble yet so I still have time before building my little pod pile.

#7 Synirr

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Posted 31 January 2012 - 03:51 PM

You can certainly try doing chaeto in a HOB filter, having a colony of macroalgae helps keep the water clean. At least some LEDs should be able to support chaeto, but their light tends to be very focused, so unless your fixture is almost directly above the filter this could be problematic. Chaeto will compete with the corals for trace elements, but the amount of chaeto you'd be growing shouldn't be much concern. Macroalgaes and corals tend to utilize different things as well... chaeto uses a lot of magnesium and iron, for example, whereas mushrooms like iodine and strontium. Once you have more coral in the tank, you should consider adding a supplement like Coral-Vite to make sure they have a good supply of everything they need.

#8 sde09001

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Posted 31 January 2012 - 04:26 PM

Ok thanks. The chaeto would be in a little box filter in the corner of the tank. I could try to position one of the moon lights over it, but I think I might just go with the coral rubble so I have nothing competing with the corals for anything, even trace elements, unless there is an advantage to the pods by using chaeto over rubble. Also as far as doing DIY LED set up when I add the ecoxotic lights, is there anyway to cut back on the number of wires, or am I stuck just having a ton and needing 2-3 sets of plugs just for the lights?

#9 sde09001

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 06:05 PM

As promised here is a pic of the corals. A few are closed up today, not sure why, could be me re-attaching the hydrometer then got knocked off. You can see what I mean about the blue tint in this pic too.
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I saw some really cool pink and orange ones at the store I got these from that I really wanted but they cost $55. Might invest in those later once I see how these ones do with the LEDs.

#10 sde09001

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 11:33 AM

Here's an update. I Finally got my white LEDs and hooked them up and the tank looks great. I have bunch more corals now since those green ones are doing so well. I got a set or orange zoas, a set of reds, a frag of fire and ice, a frag of GSP, and a red acan frag. All apear to be doing great and are always open and full of color. Still debating about using chaeto or rubble for the pod pile, any input? pics will come tonight or tomorrow.

#11 sde09001

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 07:53 PM

As promised here are some pics. Funny how I add white light and suddenly my phone is picking up more blue. Colors are way off so please trust my descriptions. lol.
Dark purple clove polyps. Only about half are open as you can see.
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The same neon green zoas as before and some GSP, possibly my new favorite coral, it's so cool looking. Thinking of moving the powerhead to it's creating more flow around the GSP so it moves more.
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(email isn't cooperating. I have more pictures but they're not loading. The rest of them will come once technology wants to work with me.)

#12 sde09001

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 07:36 AM

As promised the rest of the pictures.
Full tank shot
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My lighting set up
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Close up of my rigged white pod lights, i'm rather proud of my self for this.
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Fire and ice polyps
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Kedd red polyps
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Orange polyps (look similar to eagle eyes but not quite)
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And my red acan frag, I'm hoping it will encrust the rock its on. It looks pretty orange under my lights but it was bright red at the store.
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