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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone,

I would like to thank everyone for this community. This is my first post on this forum. So, here is the story; i currently have a 20 gallon long tank (30") that has african cichlids in it and i was thinking of a shift to use most of my current setup to convert it into a reef tank.

Tentatively i would like to keep 2 clown fish and a goby. Not sure i will start with any corals to start with (but it could change by time).

I would like to tell you the plan that i have (based on my humble research) and would love to get your opinion, so please bear with me :):

- glass tank (would be used after cleaning from the FW tank bacteria)
- Stand. I have no room for a sump as the stand has no hidden compartments, so i will have to skip this
- Aragonite (about 20 pounds, i think it could be used after cleaning from the FW tank bacteria)
- Fluval Aqua clear 30 HOB filter (i will throw all the media out and use the replacement media that i bought)
- Fluval 100W heater (i think it would be used).
- Hood - i have the aqueon full hood (it came with full spectrum T-8 that i will definitely need to replace). OR maybe i would need an LED strip - you tell me what would work better please.
- Power head - i just ordered the "Hydor Koralia Nano 425 Aquarium Circulation Pump". Don't know if that would suffice for the 20" gallon long.

Things i am missing and will need to buy:
-Instant Ocean sea salt
-Hydrometer

I don't think i need a skimmer for this tank size as long as i do 10% weekly WC.

Last but not least - Live Rock:

- I have the following that would PREFER to use for aesthetic purposes:

* Nice piece of Lace Rock (about 8-9" long) that has been used in the FW tank but will need to be sterilized. I know there are some debates about using Lace rock in FW tank but this one has been in the tank for like 2 months so if there is anything harmful for a reef tank they would have been released already (i think).
* 2 piece of texas holey rock that i am currently using for the cichlid tank
* i also have about 40 pounds of coral skeletons/Rocks that i have collected from different shores that i will clean first before using.
* The plan is get some Fiji live rock and use it to seed some of the above rocks that i have.

Sorry for the long story, thanks for your recommendations and advise in advance.
 

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The two clowns and a goby would probably be a little much for a 20 gal. I'd say a pair of clowns would be your max, and you could maybe add a really small goby (like a red head goby) but you'd need to be very good about water changes. I agree that you don't really need a skimmer on a tank that size. Honestly, I'd go with LED. It uses much less electricity, is entirely programmable and customizable, produce almost no heat, and you shouldn't ever need to replace it. Its a bigger start up cost but it'll save you on electricity and, more importantly, bulb replacement costs. You will definitely want the heater. That powerhead will get you started, but if you decide to add coral down the road, you may want to add another. Also, you should get a refractometer instead of a hydrometer. They are much more accurate and reliable. You'll need other test kits, too, for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. That'll get you started. Lastly, I'd strongly suggest getting an RODI unit, so you know you're putting perfectly pure water into your tank. You want the SpectraPure 90 GPD Refurbished unit. Great price for the best brand's product on the market. For now, read the Reefkeeping Made Easy link in my signature. Its a loooooong but great read, and it'll get you started.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Chrisfrat for your feedback.

-ok, i guess i will have to stick only to the 2 clowns.
- for the skimmer; the point is i dont want to spend much and more importantly i have no place beneath the tank to hold anything (stand is bare-bone) like a protein skimmer. The other thing i have read is that most protein skimmers for nano tank are inefficient. Question is; if i get a protein skimmer, will i have to do less water changes (like every 2 weeks as opposed to weekly changes)?
- for the test kit; i have the FW API master test kit, i THINK it can be used but i need to get my hands on the color chart for a SW kit (that is what i read online at least).
- for the RO filter: again due to space limitations, can i get away with starting the tank with distilled water? i can get 2 gallons of distilled water for weekly WC, will that do the trick?
- the refractometer i can get instead of the hydrometer (like $25 as opposed to $10)
-Light; i was wondering if i can keep my light (for the timebeing) and replace the T8 full spectrum i have with T5 (HO) either actinic or reef-sun? i would rather keep this and if i get coral i will shift to a better lighting.

Tell me what you think please and thanks for your feedback :)
 

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Yes, smaller skimmers are less efficient, because there is less space for them to produce bubbles, which are essentially their filter media. You should still keep up with you water changes weekly, but a skimmer will give you a little safety if something goes wrong. Really, IMO, skimmers are optional in tanks under 35-40 gallons.
I'd suggest getting the SW test kits. No sense in taking that risk for a small cost. Could save you big time in the long run. Salifert is my favorite but I've also read good things about the Red Sea kits. I dislike API, I find them very hard to distinguish the colors on the cards.
You can probably get away with distilled but your tank will never be the same as if you started with RODI. I only use tap and I fight some algae but its minimal. Then again, I live in Boston and we have some of the best water in the country.
Good on the refractometer.
If you don't have coral yet, get a daylight bulb for a reef, make sure it isn't for FW because that'll help algae grow, as its a different part of the spectrum. You'll be fine with that light until you want coral. Then you'll want at least a 2 bulb T5HO, preferably more though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hi Chris, thanks again for your feedback.
- For the test kit, i can get a SW one that is not a problem.
- for the light- when you say get a day light bulb for a SW tank, you mean that could be a T8. I have see one from Zoo med called Reef Sun (50% day light and 50% actinic), will that T8 work if i have fish only? just wanted to make sure.
- The other thing that is worrying me, i got the koralia 425gph powerhead and i thought i would try in my current FW cichlid tank, it produces too strong of a current, sure it will be find with a reef tank? :rolleyes: or should i get a smaller one like 240gph? Let me know on this one please.

Thanks again
 

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Any light will work if you don't have corals, its just a preference, because fish don't need any specific kind of light.
As for the powerhead, it'd be hard to tell. I'd say if you position it correctly you'll be fine. Also, powerheads run more slowly in salt water because it's denser (about 1 pound more per gallon)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks again,
I have tried playing around with placing my 425 powerhead yesterday and i think it is a bit better. Anyway, i was just trying it in my cichlid tank (as a trial) to see if it is worth it or i should return it and get 2 X 220 gph koralia when i shift to a reef tank. The other thing is that these things are not that small so they are a bit awkward looking in a 20 gallon if you have two of them (i think).

For the lighting, i will stick to my current hood for now. I think it only takes T8's so i need to stick to these for the time being. Two options i was thinking of; 1) zoo med reef sun 2) zoo med coral sun / actinic
I will think about it and see. To shift to T5's i think i need a new fixture ($$$).

Thanks again Chrisfrat
 

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No problem! You can do whatever you want for lighting, just get one that is for a reef. And I just got a new 2 bulb T5 fixture at my local Petco the other day for 65 bucks, so not bad if that's where you wanna go.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Chris, for the double T5 fixture that you just got, what is the length of the T5 bulbs that it takes? just wanted to know.
And how is it working so far? do you have Corals or just fish?
 

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Its a 30 Inch fixture, and I'm not sure but I wanna say that it takes a 22 inch bulb. It is working great. I have corals and fish. Mostly just softies and a few LPS and everything is growing great.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·

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I'd go with LED, but the first of your T5 links is the one I just got. So far its working great. You can look at the My Tank Specs link in my sig to see what I've got under it. Its on the 37 gallon. As for the LEDs, I'd recommend this one: http://reefbreeders.com/bridgelux_value.html .
Its more pricey, but you'll never have to replace bulbs ($50 every 8-10 months or so), they produce almost no heat, and they use almost no energy in comparison to T5. This one will be good for your tank at about 6-8 inches above your tank. Don't know where it should be exactly, but that's a start.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks Chirs for your suggestion on the LED. However:
- it is abit off budget
- very hard to place, i am renting an apartment so it is hard to drill something up in the ceiling to hang this from.

One more questions i got, if i bring my FW tank down i can get a 29 gallon instead of the 20 Gallon i have (same foot print for the stand) but a bit higher. You think the 29 gallon would open more options in terms of stocking? or not that different?

thanks,
 

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In about 18 months when you've spent >$100 replacing bulbs you'll wish you had gone LED. I know I did. But it's your choice and since you don't have coral yet you can certainly do it. The only things you'll get with a 29 vs a 20 is deeper distance for light to penetrate, which isn't always the best but it'll be fine, and slightly more water volume, which won't give you many more options for stocking but will give you a little more stability in water quality.
 

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The two clowns and a goby would probably be a little much for a 20 gal. I'd say a pair of clowns would be your max, and you could maybe add a really small goby (like a red head goby) but you'd need to be very good about water changes. I agree that you don't really need a skimmer on a tank that size. Honestly, I'd go with LED. It uses much less electricity, is entirely programmable and customizable, produce almost no heat, and you shouldn't ever need to replace it. Its a bigger start up cost but it'll save you on electricity and, more importantly, bulb replacement costs. You will definitely want the heater. That powerhead will get you started, but if you decide to add coral down the road, you may want to add another. Also, you should get a refractometer instead of a hydrometer. They are much more accurate and reliable. You'll need other test kits, too, for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. That'll get you started. Lastly, I'd strongly suggest getting an RODI unit, so you know you're putting perfectly pure water into your tank. You want the SpectraPure 90 GPD Refurbished unit. Great price for the best brand's product on the market. For now, read the Reefkeeping Made Easy link in my signature. Its a loooooong but great read, and it'll get you started.
I disagree with 2 clowns filling the stocking of the tank. You could easily add a third fish to that list. I had 4 in my skimmerless 20g high until my firefish went carpet surfing. I didn't have a single positive nitrate reading since May.

Thanks Chrisfrat for your feedback.

-ok, i guess i will have to stick only to the 2 clowns.
- for the skimmer; the point is i dont want to spend much and more importantly i have no place beneath the tank to hold anything (stand is bare-bone) like a protein skimmer. The other thing i have read is that most protein skimmers for nano tank are inefficient. Question is; if i get a protein skimmer, will i have to do less water changes (like every 2 weeks as opposed to weekly changes)?
- for the test kit; i have the FW API master test kit, i THINK it can be used but i need to get my hands on the color chart for a SW kit (that is what i read online at least).
- for the RO filter: again due to space limitations, can i get away with starting the tank with distilled water? i can get 2 gallons of distilled water for weekly WC, will that do the trick?
- the refractometer i can get instead of the hydrometer (like $25 as opposed to $10)
-Light; i was wondering if i can keep my light (for the timebeing) and replace the T8 full spectrum i have with T5 (HO) either actinic or reef-sun? i would rather keep this and if i get coral i will shift to a better lighting.

Tell me what you think please and thanks for your feedback :)
For a fish only tank the light doesn't really matter. People will argue that a certain light spectrum will promote algae growth but I'm not sold on it. Most LED fixtures give a 6500k rating on the white bulbs (Taotronics included) and don't cause major algae issues in display tanks much less in refugiums where a 6500k bulb is practically required.

The price of a t5ho can be comparable to a led light fixture. The Taotronics are very popular options for reef tanks and can cost approx. $120 - $150.

The distilled water is a good option and if it doesn't bother you to go that route I can't think of any reason not to. I generally use it for topping off my tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I disagree with 2 clowns filling the stocking of the tank. You could easily add a third fish to that list. I had 4 in my skimmerless 20g high until my firefish went carpet surfing. I didn't have a single positive nitrate reading since May.

For a fish only tank the light doesn't really matter. People will argue that a certain light spectrum will promote algae growth but I'm not sold on it. Most LED fixtures give a 6500k rating on the white bulbs (Taotronics included) and don't cause major algae issues in display tanks much less in refugiums where a 6500k bulb is practically required.

The price of a t5ho can be comparable to a led light fixture. The Taotronics are very popular options for reef tanks and can cost approx. $120 - $150.

The distilled water is a good option and if it doesn't bother you to go that route I can't think of any reason not to. I generally use it for topping off my tank.
Thanks Mebbid, i am indifferent between LED and T5 really. The question i have is; if i got with Marineland the double bright will this be sufficient i get corals (in terms of light and lumens)? honestly i have not seen an LED lighting a tank infront of me before. Double bright according to the specs published is intended for freshwater aquariums, that is the onlt thing that get me worrried. Otherwise, i will just get it and spare myself the money and headache of having to replace T5 bulbs.
Taotronics are good but you need to hang them from the ceiling or something, and that is not an option for me (plus it is a bit more $$).
Thanks again,
 

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Honestly, the marineland lights are all junk. They will at most be able to support zoas and mushrooms and other low light corals. The hanging lights are easy to mount if you have a wooden stand. Just attach some vertical wood or metal beams to the back of the stand, drill holes at an appropriate height, and then run metal rods through the holes. You can attach the light to the metal rods.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Honestly, the marineland lights are all junk. They will at most be able to support zoas and mushrooms and other low light corals. The hanging lights are easy to mount if you have a wooden stand. Just attach some vertical wood or metal beams to the back of the stand, drill holes at an appropriate height, and then run metal rods through the holes. You can attach the light to the metal rods.
What do you think of the Zoomed? Aqueon? just looking for something that does not need any effort to attach, just something to put on top of the tank.
Or you think these are as bad as the Marineland one?
 

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The reason I say that two clowns max is because they'll get territorial. I would strongly advise against a pair of clowns + others because the clowns will likely claim the entire tank as their own. And different color spectrums are scientifically proven to aid growth in certain photosynthetic organisms more than others. Green plants (ie most algae) grow better under redder parts of the spectrum, like 600-700 nm. This is because the chlorophyll in these organisms reflect other parts of the spectrum more, which is what gives it the green color. The color something is is the color of the spectrum it is reflecting, making greens and yellows least useful for green photosynthetic organisms, yellows and some blues slightly more useful, and low reds and violet the most useful. The graph I attached shows the relative absorption rates for green photosynthetic organisms. The study I found it from can be found here
 

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What do you think of the Zoomed? Aqueon? just looking for something that does not need any effort to attach, just something to put on top of the tank.
Or you think these are as bad as the Marineland one?
I'm honestly not familiar with the aqueon or zoomed light fixtures. What are you looking to spend on a light fixture? It might be easier to start there and work out a light that works for you that way.

What corals are you looking at keeping?

The reason I say that two clowns max is because they'll get territorial. I would strongly advise against a pair of clowns + others because the clowns will likely claim the entire tank as their own. And different color spectrums are scientifically proven to aid growth in certain photosynthetic organisms more than others. Green plants (ie most algae) grow better under redder parts of the spectrum, like 600-700 nm. This is because the chlorophyll in these organisms reflect other parts of the spectrum more, which is what gives it the green color. The color something is is the color of the spectrum it is reflecting, making greens and yellows least useful for green photosynthetic organisms, yellows and some blues slightly more useful, and low reds and violet the most useful. The graph I attached shows the relative absorption rates for green photosynthetic organisms. The study I found it from can be found here
Not to say that others won't have different experiences with clowns but my pair of Occ clowns are perfectly fine with just about any other fish I've tried to put in the tank with them.

My big point about the light spectrum of which I'm not arguing which lights are absorbed by what; is that almost 100% of LED fixtures in use over reef tank FLOOD the tank with 6500k ish lighting which is very good light rating for algae and plant growth. However even with this extremely high level of low kalvin rating light people aren't having issues with algae without the underlying causes that would cause algae growth in any other tank.
 
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