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Discussion Starter #1
I have just received a 3 gallon pico tank from a co worker who has given up on it. He came to me on Friday before he left for vacation and basically said take it home today or when he got back he was getting rid of it.

Right now the tank is about 3 months old. There are 3 pieces of live rock, sand, a heater, a powerhead and a PC light.

He devised a homemade 3 chamber filtration system. Its made from Plexiglas. The first chamber has only a heater, then to the second chamber filled with filter media, and then onto the third housing a power head, returning the water to the tank. (not sure if I'll stick with this setup)

What else do I need to maintain this tank?
I know I need a way to check salinity -Refractometer
The temp - thermometer
Is this enough?

Needless to say, the wife was not to thrilled to see me come home from work with a fish tank. So I am trying to keep initial start up cost to a minimum. I would prefer to only get the essentials. I will be getting pre-mixed salt water from my LFS for water changes which I plan on doing weekly, and, RO water for topping off from a friend in the hobby.

Thanks Brad!
 

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You will need a marine test kit. and depending on what you plan on keeping maybe more. If you have just jast fish in mind your prob alright.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the reply parnapy4

I want to wait for at least a month or so before adding anything. That way I can make sure I can hold the water, temp, and salinity levels under control.
I don’t plan to add much when I do. I'd probably start with a clean up crew, Simple corals and perhaps a fish.
I assume I should get a test kit once I put some stuff in there?
Should I get a kit that tests everything or just buy specifics tests, if so which ones?
 

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A 3 gallon will be insane to keep your salinity in check. You will either HAVE to have a auto top off..or watch very very closely. If you up for the challenge of being a new guy and having one of the hardest types of tanks to care for....theres a few things you will want to do. Take out any media from the filter, it will just cause problems. The main thing you need is water movement from that filter. The live rock will take care of the rest, and you will want to do a gallon water change once a week. You can stock that tank full of zoanthids, mushrooms, xenia, green star polyps......as long as you have a PC light over it like you said. :) Theres much much more. But those are the basics.
 

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In my opinion pre mixed salt water is a rip off. If you can get quality RO water from your friend just buy salt and mix your own.

Get the test kit before you add livestock. You will want to check your levels (Nitrate, PH, ect) before adding any fish or corals.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Take out any media from the filter, it will just cause problems.
Well not having to worry about filtration makes it much easier. I guess this tank will take a lot of diligence. Thanks.

In my opinion pre mixed salt water is a rip off. If you can get quality RO water from your friend just buy salt and mix your own.

Get the test kit before you add livestock. You will want to check your levels (Nitrate, PH, ect) before adding any fish or corals.
I havent even thought about mixing my own. Is it difficult?

Like fishboy said "take out the media!
Thanks, that I'm going to try. Seems like it will make this a little less complicated
 

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"I havent even thought about mixing my own. Is it difficult?"

Mixing water is no problem. Get a quality salt mix (I use "Instant Ocean" but there are alot of good brands out there) and mix it in a clean bucket. Keep in mind that salinity is a function of temperature so you want to equalize the tank water and salt water mix in terms of both temperature and salinity before adding it to the tank. Most people keep a cheap heater on standby for this reason. IMO slight deviations of salinity are not too detrimental in larger system but in your pico I would pay particular attention to keeping this stable.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Is there anyway I can add a sump to this tank to increase my water volume? This would ease up on the fluctuations in salinity correct?
 

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"He devised a homemade 3 chamber filtration system. Its made from Plexiglas. The first chamber has only a heater, then to the second chamber filled with filter media, and then onto the third housing a power head, returning the water to the tank."

I assumed this was a small sump.

More system capacity will help keep your water parameters stable.

Post a pic of the filtration system and we can help you some more.
 

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And make sure you top off with freshwater, not saltwater:D There is a thread on here about common novice mistakes and that's one of the big ones.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
"He devised a homemade 3 chamber filtration system. Its made from Plexiglas. The first chamber has only a heater, then to the second chamber filled with filter media, and then onto the third housing a power head, returning the water to the tank."

I assumed this was a small sump.

More system capacity will help keep your water parameters stable.

Post a pic of the filtration system and we can help you some more.
I dont really know how to post photos. The little chamber system he made is in the tank itself, Kind of like a refugium. So its kind of taking up tank space and water volume. I think I'm just going to remove it.
How would I plumb my tank to a sump then back again this is pretty confusing. I've been searching older threads and reading about durso overflows, drilling tanks and what not. A little confusing without seeing it work.


And make sure you top off with freshwater, not saltwater:D There is a thread on here about common novice mistakes and that's one of the big ones.
Yes, I'm aware of this. Thank you. :D I should look for this thread.
 

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I think the sump for a 3 gallon might be over-thinking it.
You could probably address filtration with a quality HOB filter and another nice piece of live rock. Thats just me though.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Update

Ok, just to update you guys. I removed the 3 chamber filtration system and ditched the carbon filter. I did a 100% water change and added more sand (to replace the bare section of the tank where the chambers were). I scrubbed some of the heavy algae off the live rock and the glass.
Everything seems pretty good as of now. I have an API master test kit coming in the mail.
A few questions.
It has been 1 week since I have done this, should I do a water change? Or should I wait a little longer? Is the tank cycling? Or should the tank be ok since all I did in essence was a 100% water change on a mature tank? (I know the test kit would answer my question, just curious)
I notice a light green algae haze starting on some of the glass at this point.
 

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a "light green (or brown) algea haze" is normal when a tank begins to cycle.

What conclusion did you come to on filtration. If you removed the filter it came with I am assuming you are going to get something new.
 
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