Downgrading... Need advise.

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by Nav, Sep 15, 2014.

  1. Nav

    Nav Director of Marketing & Photography

    Its been 7 months into this hobby where I stared out with a 29gal, learnt a lot (of course by making mistakes & getting a lot of advise from fellow reefers here). Its 4 months since I upgraded to my 40 breeder & things have been going really well with this build!


    With a few recent personal events in my life, I’m thinking of downgrading to a very small AIO system (less than 20 gallons). I can manage weekly small PWCs and prefer not to dose everyday so I'm looking for a little advice on a transition plan.

    So far my best option seems to be a 10gal IM AIO nano which is $100. The IM 16 is a better fit but $240 is a lot… IM 20 is $200 but 20gal could be pushing my limits. If any of you have plans on selling a 10-16gal rimless AIO tank please PM me.

    I can use my existing ATO (JBJ) & Lights (Kessil A350W, its overkill but ill run very low levels).

    Not sure if my BH-100 Reef Octopus skimmer could fit any chamber in the IM AIOs… IM’s ghost skimmers is a perfect fit but is another $150! Any suggestions here?

    Also I want to try to downgrade without a new cycle. My plan is to move rock, sand & water from my 40gal, let it run for a week while I dose Microbacter (just to be extra safe). Later run some tests to make sure params are in check and then move the Kessil with my favorite coral to the nano (no fish or inverts, it will be fish-less for 6 weeks and will later add a QT’d fish).

    Before moving the lights & coral, I think I should DBTC many coral (ones I got as DBTC) and sell a few that I purchased, sell all 5 fish (one is infected so probably all need to be QT’d by buyer), then sell the Live rock & sand and finally break down the tank dry and sell the Tank/Stand/Sump/Skimmer/Pumps etc. I’ll have to create a breakdown sale thread with all stock. Will need inputs if this is a good approach.

    I still have to explicitly state that I still hold 100% interest in reefing and soon (when things are right) will go big again :)
  2. euod

    euod Supporting Member

    Best to stay with what you got. Larger system is easier to maintain once you get it dial in. And it seems like you are doing very well there. I tend to put more work in my nano than my 55 or 180.
  3. patchin

    patchin Facilities / Event Coordinator

    I have a 12 ga nano you can have. Just the tank is good. Hood is trashed (you didn't want one anyway). JLMK
    Your tank looks great, though.
  4. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    Are you sure downgrading will be something that's helpful? You mention small weekly water changes, well how large are you doing with a 40g tank? A salt bucket worth of water is more than enough for a water change, shouldn't be too hard, hell you can use the salt bucket to mix the water in.

    If you are having time management issues, I don't think going to 10-20 gallons from 40 is really going to be saving you that much heartache and time. Especially since you're starting over from scratch, at least with fish, why sell all 5 fish? Is it the ich issue makes you want to get rid of all of them and start over?
    Coral reefer likes this.
  5. bluprntguy

    bluprntguy Webmaster

    Agree with everyone else that downgrading to a smaller tank is unlikely to save much time if that is your intent. In fact, regular water changes are probably more important with a nano. My advice would be to sit back and let the current tank run for a bit. Skip a waterchange or two on occasion if you have something else planned...
  6. Nav

    Nav Director of Marketing & Photography

    Thanks. PM'd you about the tank.

    10gal water changes every week. I have 2 18gal walmart tubs for this.

    No, just than a 10gal can't hold all 5 fish. Was planning on two baby clowns or some small blenny if I downgrade...

    @euod, @sfsuphysics, @Bluprntguy, totally agree that larger systems are stabler & easier to keep params in check.
  7. jctse

    jctse Guest

    I've been doing a 20 Long and 36 Bowfront for 3-4 years (Sumpless with no AIO compartment). Just be religious when it comes to your weekly water changes and you basically don't need to do anything else. Both my tanks are heavily stocked with coral and only a few fish. I'm barebottom with a ton of live rock. I've run carbon, gfo, and internal skimmers in the past and just concluded frequent water changes basically do the same -just don't overfeed.
    Nav likes this.
  8. Kensington Reefer

    Kensington Reefer Supporting Member

    what he said!
  9. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    Water change of 10 gallons per week for a 40G tank. Wow.
    Not like it is a bad thing, but perhaps a bit overkill.
    I think even Erin would be impressed.

    +1 on all the advice that a smaller tank is not necessarily easier.
  10. Nav

    Nav Director of Marketing & Photography

    My total water volume is 50gal (with sump) and 10gal is 20% which I guess is the right amount? Maybe thats why my Nitrates is 0 & Phosphates is 0.05 :)
  11. aqua-nut

    aqua-nut Supporting Member

    Another 'smaller ain't easier' guy here.

    Try 5g. water changes. Since you have rocks/sand in the DT and rocks and equipment in the sump, I'll bet your total volume is closer to 40g than 50g.

    But even this will not significantly change how much time the tank takes. Measuring, mixing, testing and the actual change time are almost the same. Only difference is the time it takes to drain and refill.

    The only way to save a significant amount of time is to not have a tank at all.
    Nav likes this.
  12. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    That is a the right percentage a lot of people recommend, yes.
    You want enough to remove a good percentage of pollutants, but not have risk of shock.
    BUT: I usually see recommendations to do that every 2-4 weeks, not weekly.
    So it does seem overkill to me. Opinions will vary -- a LOT.

    Yes, that sort of water change will keep those numbers way down.
    Especially since you do not seem to have that many fish.
    Nav likes this.
  13. bluprntguy

    bluprntguy Webmaster

    For a bit of the "other side" argument there are people like kgoldy on nano-reef who didn't run a skimmer, do a water change, or dose for a year or two, if my memory is correct. A 10% water change only removes 10% of the contaminants, which get replaced by new contaminants before your next water change if you don't have other export methods. Water changes, IMO, are more effective for rebalancing your parameters and replacing essential elements that we don't test for in our water and you should think. Refugiums with macros or an ATS (which you have) can theoretically help reduce the need for water regular water changes by removing some of those contaminants.
  14. neuro

    neuro Webmaster

    Man, all of my 10 gallons were 10x harder to deal with. I'll never go back to anything smaller than 30 or 40 gallon.
  15. Nav

    Nav Director of Marketing & Photography

    Can you guys explain why the nanos were hard to deal with? I know keeping the chemistry stable is a challenge, but I guess with weekly 20% PWCs, that will be taken care of. What else makes it hard?

    Less space, smaller buckets, less salt, less water, less food, faster PWCs... I'm confused.
  16. HiFidelity

    HiFidelity Guest

    Let me put it this way, I'm running 50g + 20something sump but my actual volume is probably around 50-55 and I can empty half my ATO system into the sump (happened once) or for some odd reason my entire kalk container gets emptied into the sump, in either case I'm not worried about my parameters going lethal, I might have to do some work to smooth things out again but I've eliminated those issues as any real concern.

    Facts are you will have to have ATO, you will have to do 2 part or kalk, if you keep corals at some point or another you might just need these things. I know there are plenty of tanks that run great on water changes alone but even more "nano reef tanks" are dosing something or another to keep ph & alk in check, so let's say you keep it simple and no dosing, you have no idea how quickly parameters will swing in a nano of the size you're talking, a dead fish, snail, dead something will quickly affect the tank. My last fish that died disappeared (eaten or melted away) before I had the chance to take it out and I saw no measurable spike in nitrates/phosphates.

    I'm sure everyone here can type pages for you about why bigger is more reliable but honestly this has been tested & tried for over a decade now so I'm pretty sure you're not just getting personal opinions, there's wisdom to the logic.

    My recommendation, forget about fish if you're that concerned about time and responsibility and run a coral + invert only tank, easier to take care of (still by no means easier than a bigger tank) and less to have go wrong on you.

    The nicest thing about nano tanks is a lot less water is involved in top off or WC, also a lot less expensive when dosing since it takes much less amounts, otherwise the benefits end there for me.
    I've wanted a nano for over a year now & even posted a thread on here about it but I've yet to do it simply because I do not want to commit that much time to a smaller tank while my 50g routines have worked great for me & the schedule I have.
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2014
  17. Geneva

    Geneva Supporting Member

    Your tank is really beautiful, Nav! I have no experience with nano's but after reading the above comments, it does not sound like a smaller tank would be easier or less time consuming than keeping your 40...before you make any decisions, perhaps you can try smaller water changes or do them less often if time, space, and effort are too overwhelming now! Best of luck in finding the right balance...
  18. neuro

    neuro Webmaster

    The biggest problems that I had with my nanos stemmed from the fact that I had no place to put anything that needed controlling. This includes:

    - alk/calc
    - phosphate (gfo)
    - temp control (super important!)
    - light control
    - ATO (another super important thing!)
    - RO/DI

    Any mistake I made in my 10 gallon got magnified 10 fold--there's no buffer in the event I accidentally overdose something.
    Also, I'm not always around to do a lot of manual upkeep so I need to this stuff automated. I would not be able to take more than a 2-3 day vacation without these things being automatically controlled. I had to ask myself, "Can I be here every week to do these things?" and the answer as "no."
  19. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    Man you guys are impressive with your 20% weekly water changes, I'm happy if I get 20% a month.
    Nav and bluprntguy like this.
  20. tygunn

    tygunn Webmaster

    I set up a 10g nano at my work in the past; I thought I could just do water changes every week and be done with it. The little sump area in the back of the tank I built was much bigger than what you'd see on a regular all in one tank, but I still had a hard time cramming everything in there. I ended up almost starting a fire a few times because I forgot to plug the ATO back in after a water change and evaporation drained out the tiny all in one sump area. Why was the ATO unplugged? Because putting my hand in the tank to clean rocks triggered the Tunze Osmolator high level alarm. That small amount of evaporation (1 gallon maybe) caused a HUGE swing in the salinity. I accidentally shut off the ATO on my 140g tank in the past and didn't notice it for a week with no issues. :)

    You're also at a good point where you're going to be stable enough you can leave things to just run on auto pilot with your 40g.

    However, I can fully understand what time constraints can do to you. At one point I had a dream of a 600g+ tank, but now that I know the amount of work involved I doubt I'll go down that road ever.
    neuro and Nav like this.

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