My 18g Cubish Tank

clownfish4

New member
My phyto culture was split for the second time today and is going strong. As such, I ordered my pods. I ordered the ReefGen Tisbe pods from LA. Should be delivered Wednesday. Once that culture is stable, I will order my fish. I am going to get a spotted mandarin, diamond watchman goby, and pink streaked wrasse.

I haven't fully settled on a feeding regiment yet, but I am thinking about adding pods every evening and baby brine every other morning, then dried cyclop-eeze soaked in selcon once or twice a week. I may decide to do two brine cultures and feed baby brine every morning instead of every other. I will also be adding phyto once a week.

I am waiting to order my cleanup crew until about the 4th week of quarantine, that way they will go in about a week before the fish. I will be sticking to snails only and ordering from Reef Cleaners.

Over the past week or so I have noticed a large population of the organism pictured below on my glass. My assumption is that these are harmless, algae eating flatworms. If you know what these are, please let me know.

Untitled by Mike Burns, on Flickr
 

PAXpress

New member
The AI Prime HD was delivered today. My AI Hydra got up to 50% at the height of the day, I have the Prime at 100% at the height of the day. Overall I like the profile of the Prime much better, but am worried it may not have enough spread/intensity for my tank. I'm going to leave it on for now and will keep it if my future SPS look good under it. If not, I'll switch back to the Hydra and put the Prime on the QT tank.

Excuse the algae, I left a raw shrimp in the tank for a week to really overdrive the nitrogen cycle.

IMG_2909 by Mike Burns, on Flickr
Looking a bit disco ball! How do you like the light so far? I'm looking at one for my nano...
 

clownfish4

New member
I honestly like the AI Prime. When it comes down to it, water movement will cause any light to bend. This fixture is sleek and provides a perfect amount of light for my tank, while being highly controllable. I still think the management interface could use some work, but it is good enough to get the job done.

Untitled by Mike Burns, on Flickr

And this is the wall behind the tank and the ceiling.

Untitled by Mike Burns, on Flickr
 

reefinder

New member
Great set up you got going there, I am enjoying reading your thread thus far. I set up a new tank as well and I like the idea of growing your own food. Keep the post going and pics going, you are off to a great start.
 

clownfish4

New member
Thanks reefinder. I'm very excited about this tank for a number of reasons, but the food cultures are a big part of it. I'm still debating if I am going to get a shrimp. I really want a fire, but he'll starve if I don't feed him. A big part of the live food is that I won't be introducing anything that will rot or add a lot of phosphates. If I got a shrimp I'd be adding a small piece of raw fish or clam every few days, which I don't particularly want to do. Having only fish that eat pods will also make it so I can go on vacation without a tank sitter.
 

RedGabino

New member
The Vectra pump can't be controlled with Apex.
Your tank is awesome

Enviado desde mi BLN-L24 mediante Tapatalk
 

clownfish4

New member
Thank you RedGabino. It is very disappointing to see EcoTech moving away from a partnership with Neptune. Ever since I removed the loc-line check valves the flow from my return has been much better. I'll stick to my current pump until the COR comes out and wait to see how it does before upgrading. The only reason to upgrade is the controllability.

And with that, update time! Last weekend I picked up an ORA chalice frag, a blue acro frag, some margarita snails, and some cerith snails. I picked these up to test my tank's stability and see if I could keep them alive. So far so good, though I'm pretty sure I shocked the snails when I acclimated them. They've been very slow to start moving, but are alive and seem okay now. That said, I really didn't want the margaritas, but the store I went to didn't get a shipment in last week, so it was slim pickins. Now that my tank is stable, I will place an order with ReefCleaners.

My phyto culture is doing awesome! Today was the fourth cutting and the diluted culture is so dark you can't see through it. For the Tisbe pods, I dumped them into the half of the culture left over from the split two cuts ago. Last week I sieved them out and moved them to the left overs of last weeks split. However, this method doesn't work well as it's impossible to see them in the dark green culture to manage. Today I sieved them out and put them in their own containers with fresh saltwater. The sieve carried some of the phtyo gunk with it and I added half an ounce of phyto to each container. Now the culture is very light green and I can see the pods, several of which are carrying eggs. Now I just need to find the right amount of phyto to keep them producing.

I also changed my lighting schedule today. Before I brought every color up to 100% at 4 PM, but had the blues come on earlier and stay on later. Now I'm running 20k at 100% with a 3 hour ramp up and ramp down period.

Now some pictures to finish it off. However, 20k lights with an iPhone camera doesn't result in very good photos :/ The chalice is reddish/pink and the acro is bright blue, but you can't really tell in the pics.

Chalice - It has 4 eyes.

Untitled by Mike Burns, on Flickr

Acro

Untitled by Mike Burns, on Flickr
 

clownfish4

New member
The acro completely bleached and the flesh is peeling off the chalice. I am very annoyed as I have no idea what caused it. My parameters are perfect and I don't see any parasites. There are a lot of what I believe to be flatworms in the tank, but I do not think they are parasitic flatworms and I haven't seen them on the corals. Either way, I am going to wait hold off on corals until my fish go in. I'll be getting a pink streaked wrasse, which should eat all the flatworms and other critters. While I don't think parasites are an issue, I'm still going to let the wrasse go to town before coral round two.

My phtoplankton culture crashed. One of the containers went completely clear overnight. The other still had a faint green tint, which I immediately cut and put about a quarter each into two new containers. They have reestablished nicely, so I don't have to start over. Going forward I'll be using a smaller amount when I cut to prevent such high densities from forming again. I'll also be expanding to at least 4 cultures from 2.

The Tisbe pod cultures are doing well and they are reproducing like crazy. I will be expanding the number of cultures for the Tisbes from 2 to at least 6 or 8.

I am also going to start a white worm culture. I found an interesting culture from a dealer in CO called Select Aquatics. I will likely be giving them a try, as they are not the traditional white worms seen and thrive at warmer temperatures.

In happier news I got the Neptune doser. I was manually dosing my tank 3 times a day for alk, calcium, and magnesium. The doser will be handling the alk and calcium over much larger time periods and I will dose the magnesium manually once a week.
 

Rjukan

Day Dreamer
My phyto culture was split for the second time today and is going strong. As such, I ordered my pods. I ordered the ReefGen Tisbe pods from LA. Should be delivered Wednesday. Once that culture is stable, I will order my fish. I am going to get a spotted mandarin, diamond watchman goby, and pink streaked wrasse.

I haven't fully settled on a feeding regiment yet, but I am thinking about adding pods every evening and baby brine every other morning, then dried cyclop-eeze soaked in selcon once or twice a week. I may decide to do two brine cultures and feed baby brine every morning instead of every other. I will also be adding phyto once a week.

I am waiting to order my cleanup crew until about the 4th week of quarantine, that way they will go in about a week before the fish. I will be sticking to snails only and ordering from Reef Cleaners.

Over the past week or so I have noticed a large population of the organism pictured below on my glass. My assumption is that these are harmless, algae eating flatworms. If you know what these are, please let me know.

Untitled by Mike Burns, on Flickr

The one on right looks like the type I had overtaking my tank years and years ago. Keep an eye on their population, if they really start becoming noticeable then FWE sooner rather than later. I found hardly anything that would actually eat enough of them to make a difference, besides the nudi that's my avatar pic and that wouldn't be a good option for your tank setup.

Tank looks great though!
 

clownfish4

New member
Thank you Pete!

Sorry for the long break, life got in the way, as it does. I've made A LOT of changes since November. My rock and rock wall were completely covered in algae, and the rock wall was taking up too much valuable real estate. As such, I tossed the rock wall and pulled all the rock out. I also decided I didn't want to risk the flat worms, so I pulled all the sand out as well and sanitized the tank.

Starting over, I decided I wanted to go with live rock. I do most of my shopping online as the closest LFS is over an hour a way. I decided to go with Walt Smith 2.1 and it was a tossup between TBS and LA. I went with LA due to cost. Unfortunately, I made a very stupid assumption that the Walt smith rock provided by LA was live. It didn't clearly state on the website if it was live or dry, but they required two day shipping, so I assumed it must be live. I mean, who would require two day shipping on dry rock, right? Well, apparently LA required two day shipping on dry rock :headwallblue: I contacted their customer service and they were very defensive and dismissive and stopped replying after a single response. I've always had good luck with LA, so I won't let one experience stop me from using them, but that one definitely stung. Luckily I was ordering rock for an 18 gallon and not a 300.

For Christmas I got the Apex FMK and PMK. In order to install the FMK, I reversed my bulkheads in my drain. I put the 1" meter on my full siphon and the two 1/2" meters on each of my returns. Each meter is directly connected to the bulkhead.

Untitled by Mike Burns, on Flickr


I also installed the VCA random flow generators on each of the returns. These things are awesome and create very interesting effects. The T for the return pip is closer to one of the returns, so one return is pushing 95 gph and one is pushing 99 gph. The return averages about 12 gph more than the two return combined. I just split the difference and assume the flow through the tank is ~200 gph. Total system volume is about 18 gallons (display tank is 18 gallons and sump volume is about 4 gallons, I round to 18 due to displacement), so I have roughly 11x turnover between my sump and display.

Apex Flow Meters by Mike Burns, on Flickr


I haven't played around much with the PMK yet. When I get around to it, I am going to set it in a few different positions for 24 hours and graph the full daily PAR cycle for each spot.

I also moved my probes to the overflow box, which meant I had to move the light mount. I moved the light mount to the side of the overflow box so that I could still put a mesh top over the tank. The only other thing that blocked the top was the cord for the Tunze nano, but luckily the cord fit in the overflow slot, so I pushed it down. Now I just need to buy the mesh top and install it.

Untitled by Mike Burns, on Flickr

In the sump I added SM Drop .2 ATS and moved the skimmer to the fuge chamber. Since I added the ATS, I'm not going to put substrate or algae in the fuge. I'll add some rock to the skimmer/overflow chamber.

Untitled by Mike Burns, on Flickr


Last week I added Dr. Tim's One-and-Only and dosed ammonia to start my fishless cycle. Here are the logs so far:

2/26 - Turned skimmer off, added One-and-Only, and 70 drops ammonia. Ammonia tested at 4.0.
2/27 - Ammonia tested at 2.0.
2/28 - Ammonia tested at 2.0.
3/1 - Ammonia tested at 2.0.
3/2 - Ammonia tested at 2.0, nitrate tested at 25.
3/3 - Ammonia tested at 1.0, nitrate tested at 25. Turned skimmer back on.

I'm going to keep testing daily until ammonia tests .5 or lower, then add 17 drops of ammonia. If it doesn't drop to .5 or lower by 3/8, I'm going to do a gallon water change, then dose 17 drops.

I have some light diatom algae on the sand bed, which was expected. I left the lights on during the cycle and am going to leave them on so long as their is minimal algae growth. The ATS has been running for the full cycle.

The biggest issue I have right now is surface scum. there's a dusty/oily layer on the surface and the returns/Tunze nano aren't enough to break it up. The returns break up a few square inches each. The return with 4 gph lower volume has significantly less impact on it. I ordered 4 loc-line elbows to raise the height of the random flow generators. This will both increase surface agitation and significantly reduce the amount of water that back siphons when the power goes out. In the picture below, directly above the closest outlet, you can see a clear streak. Everything else, except an area above the other nozzle, is dust/oil scum.

Untitled by Mike Burns, on Flickr


I have five last things to do to the physical setup.

1. I need to buy and install the mesh top.
2. I need to mount all of the Apex stuff and clean up the cabling.
3. I am going to install the COR-15 as soon as I can get one. Kicking myself for not pre-ordering as they are all sold out now.
4. Install the loc-line elbows.
5. Install a door on the front of the stand.

I've also decided to change up my stocking plan. For fish I am going to get a pink streaked wrasse and a mated pair of gobies with a symbiotic shrimp. I am also going to get a fire shrimp. For coral I am going to go predominantly SPS with a few softies and LPS, and of course a clam.

Assuming the cycle progresses smoothly I will be planning on adding fish in the next couple of weeks. LA's Diver's Den has a few mated goby/shrimp trios, so I will go with whatever the best available choice is when I order.

For fish food I plan on blending a seafood medley with spirulina, selcon, garlic, and ginger. I will also do occasional live baby brine, maybe once a week. I still need to figure out what I am going to do for vacations. I will likely get the Apex auto feeder and have it dose pellets while I am out of town, as well as ask local reefers to stop by.

I think that covers everything. Here are some more pics.

Untitled by Mike Burns, on Flickr


Untitled by Mike Burns, on Flickr
 
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clownfish4

New member
Got my first PAR measurement yesterday. Below is the graph for middle of my sand bed (inside the rock cove).

Apex PAR Sand Bed Middle by Mike Burns, on Flickr


And her is the graph of the AI Prime schedule. The highest line is 100%.

AI Prime Schedule by Mike Burns, on Flickr


I moved the meter to the top of the front-right rock, so I will post that measurement tomorrow.

For the cycle, 3/4 tested at 1 ammonia, but 50 nitrate. On 3/5 I did a 5g water change, which brought ammonia to 0 and nitrate to 25, then dosed 35 more drops of ammonia. Looking at ordering fish either next week or the week after, more so dependent on finding a day to work from home.
 

clownfish4

New member
Below is the PAR graph on top of the rock in the front right. I'm a bit surprised at the minimal increase from the middle sandbed, however it is off center whereas the middle sandbed was directly beneath the light.

Apex PAR Top Right Rock by Mike Burns, on Flickr


The cycle is still chugging along. I have some nice diatom growth. Below is the log of the cycle.

2/26 - Turned skimmer off, added One-and-Only, and 70 drops ammonia. Ammonia tested at 4.0.
2/27 - Ammonia tested at 2.0.
2/28 - Ammonia tested at 2.0.
3/1 - Ammonia tested at 2.0.
3/2 - Ammonia tested at 2.0, nitrate tested at 25.
3/3 - Ammonia tested at 1.0, nitrate tested at 25. Turned skimmer back on.
3/4 - Ammonia .5, nitrate 50.
3/5 - 5g water change, ammonia 0, nitrate 25. Dosed 35 drops ammonia.
3/6 - Ammonia 0.5, nitrate 50.
 
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clownfish4

New member
Below is the PAR graph for the top middle rock.

Apex PAR Top Middle Rock by Mike Burns, on Flickr


I got the 4 1/2" loc-line elbows today and installed them on the returns, which reduced the flow by about 10 gph for each side. I'll post updated measurements on those once they have time to break in.

Cycle looks to be about complete. I have some breeder nets coming to hold the fish temporarily to make sure they are eating before being released and the parts to make the mesh top. Still on track to order livestock next week.

2/26 - Turned skimmer off, added One-and-Only, and 70 drops ammonia. Ammonia tested at 4.0.
2/27 - Ammonia tested at 2.0.
2/28 - Ammonia tested at 2.0.
3/1 - Ammonia tested at 2.0.
3/2 - Ammonia tested at 2.0, nitrate tested at 25.
3/3 - Ammonia tested at 1.0, nitrate tested at 25. Turned skimmer back on.
3/4 - Ammonia .5, nitrate 50.
3/5 - 5g water change, ammonia 0, nitrate 25. Dosed 35 drops ammonia.
3/6 - Ammonia 0.5, nitrate 50.
3/7 - Ammonia .25, nitrate 50.
3/8 - Ammonia 0, nitrate 50. Dosed 35 drops ammonia.
 

Fig

New member
How's your Prime mount? I've read horror stories about the plastic screw on it breaking/flexing and the light ends up in the tank.
 

clownfish4

New member
Fig, I haven't had any issues with it, but I worry about everything. For the time being I have a zip tie that wraps around the return pipe, then around the plastic screw on both sides of the mount. If the screw loosens, this should prevent it from falling in the tank. I'm still working on a long term solution. I'll also be putting a mesh top on the tank, but I'm guessing the light is heavy enough that it would break through the top if it fell.
 

clownfish4

New member
I was looking at Diver's Den today and saw a mated pair of orange spotted gobies with a red banded pistol shrimp, as well as a pink streak wrasse, so I decided to place my order. After adding those to the cart I looked at the shrimp in Diver's Den and found a single fire shrimp, then I saw a mated pair of skunk cleaner shrimp. Can you guess which I went with? If you said fire shrimp, you are WRONG! Never had mated anything in the ~15 years I've been reef keeping, now I'll have two mated pairs in my tank. To finish it out I cruised over to the aquacultured corals in Diver's Den and found a very intriguing chili pepper plating montipora. All are scheduled to be delivered Tuesday.

The mesh for the screen top arrived today, but the rail kit was "lost". Carrier says they delivered it, but it's nowhere to be found. The delivery notes say it was left in my mailbox, but the shipping box is 3' long and my mailbox is maybe 18" deep, sooooo I don't think they put it in the mailbox. I contacted the distributor and they shipped a replacement that should arrive Monday.

The breeder box should arrive tomorrow. I'm not going to quarantine. Yes yes, I know I should, but I've thought this through a lot and am not concerned. The breeder box will hang on the side of the aquarium submerged in the display. It has a divider, so the gobies and pistol shrimp will go on one side and the skunk shrimp and wrasse will go on the other. I'll leave them in there until they are eating readily.

Speaking of eating, today is fish food making day. I couldn't find a prepackaged medley at the grocery store, so I bought octopus, clams, and shrimp. I'm grinding those with Selcon, Coral Frenzy, Omega One flakes, fresh garlic, and fresh ginger. I will also be hatching brine shrimp.

I'll be doing a 5g water change tomorrow, and probably another one on Monday to get rid of all the nitrate from the cycle. The ATS hasn't really grown much as the fishless cycle doesn't introduce phosphate or any nutrients outside of the nitrogen cycle. Once that is kicking I'll be going ULM with minimal water changes.

Last thing to do before Tuesday is turn the dosers on. After the water change tomorrow I'll test and dose Ca/Alk/Mg to the desired levels, then turn the dosers on.
 

clownfish4

New member
The top and breeder box are in place.

Untitled by Mike Burns, on Flickr


The 5g water change today left nitrates at 25. I'll be doing another 5g water change tomorrow, then will test and dose Ca/Alk/Mg. Should be all set for Tuesday's delivery. One edit to my previous post, the skunk cleaner shrimp will bypass the breeder box, so the pink streak wrasse will go in one side and the gobies/pistol will go in the other.

To acclimate I built an eggcrate "table" that straddles the heater in the sump. I'll put containers with the fishes/shrimp on the shelf and drip acclimate them. This way they'll maintain temperature while the water drips in. I'll post pics on Tuesday of the process.
 

christiantt

New member
I like the development of the tank! And the new the rock setup is really great!!
How about the skimmer - are you still happy about it??
 
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