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Hi everyone,
I recently purchased a 3 gallon eclipse with stock lighting and filter, and took it home with hopes of detting up a nice desk sized reef tank. The guy at Petsmart told me to set up my new tank in the following way...
1. rinse out the tank
2. Add 3 pounds of argonite
3. Add my 3 pound live rock
4. Premix my Instant Ocean salt with tap water
5. then add the mixed saltwater to the tank.
I did all of this just as he told me. I also bought the API Reef Master Test Kit
and Kent's 3 bottle start up kit, the one with Iodine,Strontium & Molybdenum, and Liquid Calcium. I alos got a submersible heater and Temp Strip. Also got a bottle of Stresscoat...
I set up my tank a couple of days ago, used the kent set up additives mentioned above, and my tank is staying right at 79 degrees..but I'm lost as to what I do now, I've heard that it is supposed to "Cycle" and have heard I'm supposed to put a raw shrimp in the water and do a 10% water change each week?? Please let me know if there is a simple way to have a nice little tank..I'm not interested in having fish right now unless I need to have them to keep the tank happy..just my live rock, Thanks SOOOO MUCH in advance!!
 

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3 gallons in incredibly small so you must know that this is a very difficult tank to keep. For beginners I recommend 50 gallons as a starter. That said, it's not impossible.

A tank this size is suitable for soft corals and perhaps 1 small fish. When I say small, I mean one that stays small forever. :)

I also don't recommend any shrimp. The reason for this is because they are sensitive to changes in salinity and in a tank that small just a little bit of evaporation will cause an increase in salinity.

You do need to let the tank cycle, this can take several weeks. A small piece of raw shrimp works great. Test your water every other day or so. You should get ammonia first, then nitrite, then nitrates. Once you get nitrates I suggest that's when you start your water changes but not before. 10% each week should work. On that note, remember that your water evaporates. When it does you top off the tank with freshwater. We recommend RO/DI water around here because it's clean and pure. You do water changes with salt water and top off with fresh.

You do not need fish to keep the tank happy, but one tiny fish might keep you happy. There are several species but one I really like is the yellow clown goby.

Here's a list of several beginner corals. I don't think Xenia will work in a small tank like that, I've tried with little success. But mushrooms and Paly should do well.
 

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definitely dont use tap water! and find a lfs with a store credit program. then u can buy small and if they outgrow, bring them back and trade for another small. or if this is a trial tank, start slow and start saving for your big tank now. thats what happened to me. haha. but when i started my first tank ( a 10 gallon aga tank) i kept a cleaner shrimp and a peppermint shrimp, and never had a problem. i made the newb mistakes with them. like topping off with saltwater. and they stayed with me. so not all shrimp are touchy.
 

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and if u can find a lfs, ask for used filter media. that will help shorten cycle process durastically.
 

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Wow! Welcome. That's quite a undertaking for a newbie!

I have a 5 gal and it's constant maintenance daily. Don't mean to scare you but it is going to be allot of work! Honestly I know this sounds crazy, but I would dump your water out. Go buy pre-cycled water (it's avaliable online & I think PetCo has it (yes I said petco people and yes i hate petco but i't is one of the few places that have it). Some LPS have it as well or can order it) Keep your substrate (sand bed) and LR and dump in the pre-cycled ready water in. Then leave that alone for about a straight 2 weeks and just let your tank break in with lights on for about 8-10 hrs and filters running.

The reason I say this is it will get you very well acquainted with S/w and a nano/pico tank setup and what to look for and daily maintenance etc. You can get familiar with water changes, salinity,testing correctly etc. w/o having to deal with that nasty cycling.

You will see your LR start to develop nicely and small amounts of alge bloom. Then add a few snails wait a few more weeks & add a few more cleaners. 1 crab and eventually 1 fish max.

Also keep up on your weekly water changes of about 10-15 % or your Nitrates will skyrocket very quickly.

Keep your temperature down to about 74-75 tops for such a small tank. It's like a petrie dish waiting to break-out. Otherwise your tank will spur disease very quickly.

Watch out for your salinity levels. small tanks hit high levels quickly due to evaporation. so stay on your top-offs.

Go to the store and buy RO drinking water or buy from your LPS for tap offs and water changes. Don't forget to match your salinity when mixing. your TAP should not be used. But do continue to use Stress coat and Stress Zyme from AP. You could buy a AP tap water unit, but for such a small tank it is allot of $$

Also keep on adding your additives , but don't over do it and follow the instructions closely. Most additives are designed for a 10/gal so you need to calculate accordingly.

Once you get a handle on things and the hobby and decide if a nano tank is for you and if your up to the maintenance then you can start playing around with Clams,Xenia,Polups,shrooms,soft corals etc.

Have fun and good luck and enjoy!

Oh you should also keep a small power-head or equivalent unit at the bottom of your tank to keep the tank oxygenated well.
 

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Welcome to TRT! This is an awesome site! Im fairly new to reef keeping and everyone has been so helpful on this site!
Anyway, I also recommend using "live water" along with the "live sand." If you do it this way you do not have to spend money on the KENT starter kit to add nutrients because the live water is full of everything nutritious. When I first set up my 20gal I used the brand "Natures Ocean" "Nutri-SeaWater" with the live sand and rock. I let it run for a month with nothing else then I added a couple damsel fish. I didnt add a piece of shrimp but it still cycled with no problems.
Also, if you choose to pre-mix your own water I would stay away from using tap water!!
 
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