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zacharY
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1,308 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I plan on successfully maintaining a 29 gallon reef tank. Over the course of the last year, I have been researching what's involved in keeping a reef tank.

The point of this build is for other beginners to read about any issues I've come across and how to avoid them. Similar threads are how I've learned much of the information I know today about reefing. Additionally, I plan on buying nearly all of my equipment online, so I will provide links to get other beginners started. This does not mean that you should copy my setup without any research on your part, I'm just trying to show you one setup that works (hopefully :funny:). Your goals are certainly different than mine in someway, which is why you need to research what equipment you'll need for your setup.

Current Livestock List:

2 Ocellaris Clownfish
1 Six Line Wrasse
1 Peppermint Shrimp
1 Skunk Cleaner Shrimp
Some Green Star Polyp Colonies
A Few Mushroom Corals
Some Zoanthids/Palythoas
1 Devil's Hand Leather Coral
1 Green Plate Coral
Many Toadstool Leather Corals
Several Branching Hammer Coral Heads

CUC:
7 Turbo Snails
7 Blue Leg Hermit Crabs

Hitchhikers That I Haven't Removed:
1 Star Snail
A Large Breeding Population of Cerith Snails
Several Bivalves
Several Clams
Several Types of Coralline Algae
2 Large White Feather Duster Worms
Hundreds of Small Orange Feather Duster Worms
Pods
Too Many Types of Nuisance Algae :bawling:
Some Limpets
Many Bristle Worms
Who Knows What Else!

Initial Equipment (some were replaced; other things were added):

Live Rock, Salt Mix, Bucket, Background, Brute Can, Battery Air Pump, Refractometer, Nitrite Test Kit, Ammonia Test Kit, pH Test Kit, Nitrate Test Kit, Live Sand, RO/DI, Glass Cleaner, Light, Water Changer, Specimen Container, Protein Skimmer, and Power Heads

Total Initial Equipment Cost: $1063.57



__________________
 

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zacharY
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1,308 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Yesterday my live rock arrived, which meant that I could finally get started! Yesterday I started by arranging my aquascape. I made two adjacent islands; one is about twice the size of the other. The larger island has a cave. After I was pleased with my aquascape, I put about 10 pounds of live sand, resulting in a 1'' sand bed. While arranging my aquascape, I mixed 30 gallons or so of saltwater and after several hours of mixing, I put the water into the tank. I am very pleased with my live rock, it is teeming with life! There is halimeda algae everywhere. There is a large amount of coralline algae (a good purplish color). I have a few ghost feather dusters, a few barnacles, and a couple clams. I also have 2 open brain corals (both seem OK right now) and 3 lesser starlet corals (1 looks dead but the other 2 look fine). There are many bristle worms (the largest I've seen is around 3'' long) and 1 hermit crab. There is also this tube-like thing that has the structure of a turnicate, but it is large, solitary, and looks like a rock! Unfortunately, there is also an aiptasia anemone that I plan on removing today or tomorrow with Aptasia X or Joe's Juice (whichever the LFS carries). My cycle has definitely began, but I am a little perplexed at the lack of nitrite. Ammonia: 0.5, Nitrite: 0.0, Nitrate: 2.5, pH: 8.0, Temperature: 82F (a little too high). My protein skimmer is really pulling stuff out; after only a day the collection cup is 1/5 the way full with a wet, green skimmate. The powerheads are working fine and I have set them up so as to keep detritus in the water column. The only issue I've had with my equipment is the light fixture. I love it, the light fixture has three settings ran by a timer (one being moonlights [2 LEDs], another being the actinic bulbs [2 bulbs], and the white/purple/pink lights [1 white bulb and 1 purple/pink bulb]). The problem is that one of the 2 moonlight LEDs will turn off unexpectedly or won't turn on. I am able to temporarily fix this by adjusting the wires in a certain way within the fixture, but the fix isn't permanent. I called the retailer I bought the light fixture from (That Pet Place) and they are replacing it. They have very nice costumer service and the lowest prices on many items; check out their website before purchasing any aquarium-related supplies on the internet!
Thanks to everyone at The Reef tank who has helped me get here, I wouldn't be here without your help and expertise!
 

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zacharY
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1,308 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Today I killed the aiptasia anemone I had with Joe's Juice. The anemone appears to be dead and gone but i'll keep an eye out for it. Does anyone think that it's strange that I have ammonia and nitrate in the tank but no nitrite? Also, I found some more corals in my tank today! There are still 3 lesser starlet corals, 2 look healthy but 1 looks dead and totally bleached. I'm going to assume that this coral is dead until something happens showing some kind of improvement in health. Today I found 2 more open brain corals. They are both very small and appear to be the progeny of the other 2 open brain corals (I can tell that this is the case because the baby corals are very close to the mature corals). Both of the baby open brain corals appear to be healthy. 1 of the big open brain corals appears healthy, but the other is more than halfway bleached. Is there anything I can do aside from dosing to help the coral grow back? Keep in mind, I am still cycling my tank, so I can't really improve my water quality right now. On a positive note, the open brain corals are all opened up and fluorescing very nicely. They have a nice green/blue metallic color under the actinics and the moonlights.
 

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zacharY
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1,308 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks, if you look around enough on the internet you can find really nice equipment for a low price. In reality, I did spend more money than that number because I replaced my old freshwater tank with a new one and I also had to buy 2 backgrounds (the first one had a bunch of bubbles in it once put up). Luckily, I did have a stand when I started out, so that saved me some money. I've already asked this once, but no answers so far so I'll ask again :help:. Do you think that it's strange that I have ammonia and nitrate in my tank but no nitrite? Also, is there anything I can do for my open brain corals to improve their health? Thanks.
 

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zacharY
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1,308 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Today I'm going to post some pictures!
Top left: A dying hitchhiker open brain coral. I think it's releasing its zooxanthellae. Can tissue grow back again after all the zooxanthellae is gone?
Top middle: What I believe is a branching sponge. Am I wrong?
Top right: 2 clams.
Bottom left: ???
Bottom middle: An algae/cyano with air bubbles in it???
Bottom right: Full tank shot.
 

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zacharY
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The water parameters for today (Day 9) are - Temp: 77F, SG: 1.024, pH: 8.0, Ammonia: 1.5, Nitrite: 5, Nitrate: 50. So it looks like the cycle's moving along. Over the course of the last few days, I've been reading this, and I've learned quite a bit about the nitrogen cycle. I've decided that I will wait and see if I'm going to feed my tank at all during the rest of the cycle because it seems that the die off from my live rock has provided all of the food that my bacteria will need.
 

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zacharY
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1,308 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The water parameters for today (Day 11) are - Temp: 78F, SG: 1.024, pH: 8.0, Ammonia: 1.5, Nitrite: 5+, Nitrate: 100+. I got a new heater today because the old one would allow temperature swings of +/- 2 degrees from the desired temperature. I'm going to do my second water change tomorrow to try to keep my parameters in control. This time I'm going to use a turkey baster to blow detritus off the live rock.
 

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It took me 5 months to buy a turkey baster and use it. I could not believe how many stuff can get in the LR in a week. I'm glad I'm using it now.
 

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zacharY
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I did the water change yesterday. I got a ton of gunk out of the live rock; I'm glad that I incorporated the turkey baster into my routine. the water parameters for today (Day 13) are - Temp: 78F, SG: 1.024, pH: 8.0, Ammonia: 0 :dance:, Nitrite: 5+,and Nitrate: 100+. I have also decided that, starting tomorrow, my tank will begin a 3 day blackout to kill my algae (there's 2 types in my tank - see below). Now that all of my coral hitchhikers are dead, I guess there's nothing good in my tank (other than my coralline algae) that can die during the 3 day blackout. Even if the coralline does die, I figure that I can get more from my LFS if it doesn't grow back on its own.
 

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Coralline will not die. I have cured some LR form LFS during 3 weeks in a bucket with no additional light. Coraline was still there after 3 weeks.:thumbup:
 

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zacharY
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Today is Day 3 of the blackout. I turned the lights off completely and covered most of the tank with a few towels to ensure that no ambient light got into the tank. The smaller algae have died, and the larger specimens are mostly dead. I'm going to prolong the blackout to Tuesday morning to make sure all algae die. My water parameters for today (Day 16) are - Temp: 78F, SG: 1.024 (I'm trying to slowly bring this back up to 1.025), Ammonia: 0, Nitrite: 5+, Nitrate: 50 (It's gone down from 100+:banana:!) Attached are some pictures of trails in my substrate. I see these trails every morning when I wake up and also during the day during the blackout, yet I have no idea what has been making the trails. Any ideas?
 

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zacharY
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
The Cycle Is OVER!

The parameters for today (Day 23) are - Temp: 78F, SG: 1.025, pH: 8.0, Ammonia: 0, Nitrite: 0, Nitrate: 10.
The blackout that I started last weekend ended up lasting 5 days. During those 5 days much of the nuisance algae died. Some new sponges grew during the blackout but have since receded/died. My coralline algae exploded! The coralline grew a lot during the blackout (in some cases it doubled in size)! Also, 2 of my 3 starlet corals that I thought had died came back from the dead! There is a small orange sliver that is growing over the white skeleton, and this orange sliver seems to be growing. If this keeps up, I think they'll make it!
After the blackout, I weeded most of the remaining nuisance algae did a 20 gallon water change. I also got a lot of detritus out of the tank (much more than in previous water changes). Before the water change, I moved the aquascape around a little bit (which released a bunch of detritus into the water column) and I slightly repositioned the powerheads.
I plan on adding a CUC made up of 10 cerith snails and 5 blue leg hermit crabs in 2 weeks, assuming the water remains in good quality. Any other suggestions for the CUC?
 

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zacharY
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
This week the tank is 5 weeks old. I did a water change today (it's been a week since the last water change). Before the water change, my parameters were: Temp: 78F, SG: 1.025, pH: 8.2, Ammonia: 0, Nitrite: 0, Nitrate: 10. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough time to test my parameters after the weekly 5 gallon water change.
After the four week-long cycle, I waited a week and today I bought my CUC! I got 7 turbo snails and 7 blue leg hermit crabs. All seem OK as of now. In the 2 hours they've been in my tank, the turbo snails have really taken a chunk out of the hair algae growing on my back wall! :D Do you all think that I got too many inverts? Should I get more in your opinion? Any other recomended CUC inverts? Thanks.
 

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zacharY
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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
The tank is now 6 weeks old. The water parameters for today are- Temp: 78F, SG: 1.024, pH: 8.0, Ammonia: 0, Nitrite:0, Nitrate: 4. So my recently added CUC is doing well; as far as I know they're all still alive. I'm able to easily count all 7 of the turbo snails, but it is extremely difficult to find my 7 blue leg hermit crabs. I never see more than 2 at a time, so I can't really be certain that they're all doing OK. I figure that if a hermit did die (not that I have any reason to think that's happened), there would be a rise in ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate (I haven't seen a spike). The CUC does seem to be eating of the green hair algae, but there hasn't been a considerable difference since I last posted.

Recently I've been noticing more new hitchhikers. I'm going to post all of the following info and pics in the hitchhiker section of the forum as well as here.
Top left: What appears to be an anemone of some kind (perhaps majano?) that has a tube of substrate leading to the oral disk.
Top center: A jellyfish! I've seen at least one other several days ago. I'm certain it's a jellyfish because of its shape and it has been inflating and deflating to move around (just like a jellyfish should).
Top right: Another shot of the jellyfish. In real life, the jellyfish looks a lot more like it's pictured here than in the other picture of it.
Bottom left: Some limpets. Can these be problematic?
Bottom middle: Some clam-like mollusk (but not a clam) that moves around a lot and is usually near the top of the tank. I think this is simply behavioral and I don't think that I have an oxygen deprivation problem because I have a protein skimmer that I think provides all of the gas exchange that my tank needs.
Bottom right: Some red macroalgae. Any ideas as to what kind?

Thanks.
 

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