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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey Everyone!

I've had everything up and running for just about 3 monts now, I want to add more inhabitants to my tank, specifically LPS. Since I'm running a 20 gal, and can't get a sump, I'd like to look into possible improvements I could start making to my tank in order to get ready to really get into keeping coral.

My current tank info is:

20g H
20 lbs Live Sand
~11 lbs live rock/real reef rock mix
Orbit Marine LED 23W Lighting
1 Aqueon Circ Pump 500gph
50w preset heater
Hydor Slim Skim Nano (just added)
2 Ocellaris Clowns
1 Azure Damsel
1 Skunk Cleaner
~10 Blue-legged hermits
2 mushrooms
1 GSP rock, of a decent size
And a trumpet coral with a single head

For a while, I left a plain-jane Aqueon Quietflow 30 running, just the included filter pad inside. During this time, the water did look much cleaner, which is probably attributed to the carbon. Would getting a HOB, either the quietflow, or something better like an aquaclear back on the tank be a worthwhile improvement to water quality/clarity? If so, what should I put in it? If not, what else should I be working on in order to improve water quality?

I will be acquiring about 5lbs of rock from a friend in a week or so, but it's been sitting outside in a bucket of saltwater for months, so I'm not sure what the best course of action is for it at this point. It might all be dead by now, it might not.

The skimmer, which I added today, is producing a lot of microbubbles. From what i've heard, it's a common issue with the skimmer during the break-in period, so the best course of action is to simply let it run. It did produce a bit of lime green liquid that didn't look too shabby for its first day of operation.

By no means is my water quality poor, I do a 25% W/C every two weeks with rodi, which keeps my nitrate and phosphate levels low. I just want to do everything I can to make sure my inhabitants can thrive.

TL;DR: Does anyone see problems with my setup list? e.g. water movement, mechanical filtration, general upgrades to be made, lack of helpful materials
 

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Do you blow your rocks free of detritus and vacuum your sandbed during waterchanges? This alone will control phos and nitrates better then larger waterchanges.

Any kindve mechanical filtration will most likely work against the system if not cleaned very frequently.

Here is something for you to think about, if corals filter the water for detritus and bacteria to eat, is having crystal clear water really a good thing?

Keep your skimmer set to skim out a tea like water, its helping.

If the rock doesnt smell horrible it might be okay. It would be best to cure it before adding it.

How many led's does your light have? It doesnt sound adequate for a 20g high tank. It might cut it for a 20g or 10g but not a tank with height to it. If it has more then 7 leds in it the leds are probably 1w leds and may not be suitable for alot of coral that need moderate to high lighting. A fixture with 3w leds would fair way better. Can you post a link to your fixture so we can be sure?
 

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I would look into either more light, or research LPS corals that aren't so light demanding.

definitely vacuum your sand during water changes.

I recently invested in a red sea nitrate and phosphate pro test kit and would highly recommend it so you have a higher resolution estimate of your levels. Not needed but a good thing to have.

Possibly more flow as well.

Also invest in a good set of test kits for calcium alkalinity and magnesium. This isn't as critical with LPS as it is with fast growing SPS but is still something you should keep an eye on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Do you blow your rocks free of detritus and vacuum your sandbed during waterchanges? This alone will control phos and nitrates better then larger waterchanges.
I always siphon my sandbed and get the rocks looking spiffy when I do a W/C. Am I overdoing it on the change amount?

Any kindve mechanical filtration will most likely work against the system if not cleaned very frequently.
So a no to the HOB, huh? Well, I can dream that it would be that simple.

Here is something for you to think about, if corals filter the water for detritus and bacteria to eat, is having crystal clear water really a good thing?
I suppose not. Sure does look nice though. :)

Keep your skimmer set to skim out a tea like water, its helping.
Good to know! The micros are dissipating as well.

If the rock doesnt smell horrible it might be okay. It would be best to cure it before adding it.
Alright, after I get it I'll leave it in a heated 5 gal for 2 weeks.

How many led's does your light have? It doesnt sound adequate for a 20g high tank. It might cut it for a 20g or 10g but not a tank with height to it. If it has more then 7 leds in it the leds are probably 1w leds and may not be suitable for alot of coral that need moderate to high lighting. A fixture with 3w leds would fair way better. Can you post a link to your fixture so we can be sure?
Hah, 1w, I wish. It has 96 in total, and is by no means rated for demanding species. I'm considering simply supplementing the led's with T5 during the photo period, but I haven't really decided on what route I'll take when it comes time for the upgrade. I only get roughly 30 par in the sandbed, but my trumpet coral, who sits about 10" from the light, is getting 80 or so, and is doing well. As of now, there's plenty of room to build upwards with my rock. Manufacturer says I can get about 150 at 6" of water.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I recently invested in a red sea nitrate and phosphate pro test kit and would highly recommend it so you have a higher resolution estimate of your levels. Not needed but a good thing to have.
I suppose I could shell out the $60 or so they'd cost me, if you think it'd help out in the long run.

Possibly more flow as well.
How much more? This was something I was concerned about at first, but after seeing my gsp getting nice flow despite the fact that they're in a very indirect spot, I became unsure of. I have a second circulator of the same model that I don't use, as the fish seemed to be really bothered by both running.

Also invest in a good set of test kits for calcium alkalinity and magnesium. This isn't as critical with LPS as it is with fast growing SPS but is still something you should keep an eye on.
I will do this. I don't have a kit for anything past API phosphate and an API saltwater, so Ill put some research into a good set of these.
 

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Lookup the chinese black box on ebay, its a full spectrum led fixture that will let you keep alot more corals, probably the best deal on a light for 80$ i have seen.
If your vaccing the sandbed and blowing off the rocks then you can just change as much water as is needed to do just that, if your happy with 25% then thats okay too, once you get more corals that demand cal/alk it will just help keep your params in check that much more.
If you feel you have decent flow then there is no need to add more powerheads, but you could always use more flow. Possibly think about aiming it behind the rockwork or somehow use it to a maintenance advantage. When i put alot of flow in my 55g my fish and corals were scared at first. I put 2 powerheads on timers and slowly increased the amount of time per day they were on and that helped everything get acclimated to the flow, now i could blast some of my corals full force and they would act like nothing is happening. I often see my fish playing in it as well.
Even the best phos test kit isnt as good as your eyes. Your eyes show you yoir macro is receeding, a fest kit would have never told you you phos is low enoigh for that. They only test for inorganic phosphates which are a small percentage of the total phosphates in yoir system, it takes very sophisticated testing to find how much organic phosphates are in the system. Btw ditch the macro so it isnt dying and letting all those nutrients get back into the water. If you have phosphates, you have nitrates. If you control phosphates then as a side effect youf controlling nitrates, any cheap test kit for nitrates is enough money spent on it. Nitrates dont affect mich in our systems anyways.

As a final note, since it sounds like your system is pretty low in nutrients, or getting there, i wouldnt only cure the new rock but i would cook it too. No, not in the oven silly!! Just keep it in that bucket for an extended period of time, each week swish the rock out really well to get all tge detritus out and replace the water. It would be ashame to have a nice looking tank just to put a rock loaded with nutrients in there and watch it grow algae and dirty up your tank causing you problems.

Pictures!,!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The old Mars Aqua setup eh? I was originally going to get one of those, but I couldn't get past the whole...
Yeah, that. In hindsight, I cant help but laugh at how the broken english scared me into buying an American Made product that wasn't half as good. Ill look into picking one of these up, but I'm not sure how I'd mount it, as I don't really have the option to hang it anywhere.

Anyway, here's the pictures you ordered.

Circ points at the top for surface agitation...


...but the GSPs still sway about nicely!


My shrimp really likes the bottom of the skimmer for whatever reason.


Might not be easy to see, but this rock has recently been getting speckled green and purple, which is nice to see, since its been white for a long time, and doesn't fit in with the real reef.


Here's a rather mediocre shot of the whole tank. As you can see, I've got plenty of vertical space to build to. I need more rock for sure.
 

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LOL water change to haircut ratio. Just saw that.

The surface doesn't look as agitated as it could be. Ideally you have the entire surface rippling. It might just be the photo.

just for a frame of reference; my 29 gallon display has over 2000 gph, probably closer to 2500 gph. I'm on the upper end of required flow but my clownfish love it.
 
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