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Fire_Reefer's Begginer's Journey - Fluval 13.5gal

Fire_Reefer

Supporting Member
Brand new to the reefing hobby starting with this tank.

I have a freshwater system 20gal that's been up for a few years now. While shopping for some plants for the freshwater, the LFS down here in Monterey, The Ultimate Aquarium, talked me into starting a salt water mixed reef tank. Girlfriend made the mistake of letting me go to the fish store alone and I came home with the Fluval Evo 13.5gal.

Intial setup
March 13, 2021
Stock everything
~5lbs of crushed coral substrate
13lbs Dry Rock
LFS salt water (I'll check on salt mix used)
75w heater
Cycled with LFS "secret sauce"???

Currently Running
Stock everything
~5lbs of crushed coral substrate
13lbs Dry Rock
LFS salt water (I'll check on salt mix used)
75w heater
Stock filter media in 1st chamber
Fluval Biomax in 2nd chamber

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Fire_Reefer

Supporting Member
Day One - 3/13/21

So I was in the LFS looking for some plants to add to our freshwater aquarium... And to decide on saltwater tank or no saltwater tank.

The girlfriend and I were in the week prior and she was really into the corals and marine fish. She said it'd be cool to have a saltwater tank. I took that to mean we should get one and we should get it immediately! So of course the next time I went in without her...

Saw this awesome guy in the freshwater section... I was pretty close to bringing him home, but the freshwater tank was dealing with some nitrate issues.
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After pacing back and forth for 30 min to an hour Larry, the LFS guy, and these two tiny buggers finally convinced me to pull the trigger. (They would not end up be my clowns, but they made a great sales pitch.)
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The tank
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Preliminary mock up of aquascape
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Up and running on day one.
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Our cat Tequila ensuring that the freshwater tank is continously monitored.
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newfly

Supporting Member
I 3d printed the media rack for chamber 1 and 2. Works great. I can share the files if you have a printer. I do have an extra media rack for chamber 1 ( fairly tight fit, you may want to sand it down a tiny bit) if you want for free. I reprinted with 99% scale. I'm in Santa Clara, so its a bit of a drive for you. InTank sell them for $65 !

Edit: I have a pic in my build thread, post #63
 

H2OPlayar

Supporting Member
Looks like you need more freshwater plants too! I got some plants and starter frags for you in Sunnyvale if you ever make the trek down here. I like the upgraded media basket eventually for this tank, but no need to do anything until you learn a bit about how you want to run your tank.

I also highly recommend kick starting your tank with some live rock or rubble from a mature tank to get your pods and bacterial colonies going.
 

Fire_Reefer

Supporting Member
I didn't see these posts until today. Thanks for the offer guys! I might have to take you up on that once I head up to the bay area again... I wish I had seen your posts, I was just up there last week *face-palm...

@newfly i don't have a printer... Next time I'm up in the bay area I would be down to meet up and check out your setup. Did you also print a plug for the lower intake hole? I'm in search for one of those as well.

@H2OPlayar Yeah the fresh water tank took a turn for the worse... The plants I did have in that pic are all shells of their former selves... I had a huge brown algae outbreak and it coated all of the leaves and they all started rotting. Now I have mostly stems. When you introduce the live rock are you worried about the other hitchhikers that might come along as well?
 

Fire_Reefer

Supporting Member
At some point between March 14 and March 25 the LFS said that the tank was ready for some CUC. I grabbed 2 hermits and 2 trochus and 2 nassarius snails. Apparently I wasn't that into this phase of the tank because I didn't take any pictures... I threw some algae wafers in every couple days and the snails/crabs were stoked.

March 25, 2021
LFS said the water test showed that the bacteria had grown enough to support fish. So of course we did the cliche thing and got the kids some nemos... A couple of black photons according to LFS. These two were kicking it together and kept chasing the other clown in the tank with them, they obviously had some type of connection.
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Of course the girls all wanted to name them Nemo and Marlin... I couldn't allow us to be THAT cliche. So after sleeping on it we settled on Kevin and Doug.
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Names are fitting as they originally thought that the big bird was a male, which is why they name it Kevin, later to find out its female... Kind of like how the clowns start out male and one becomes the female...
 

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PeetaJai

Supporting Member
Just curious your tank is doing as of today?
Because I feel like your cycle period was way too short and the LFS was rushing to sell you live stocks. I hope everything is good.
 

Fire_Reefer

Supporting Member
How does your tank look as of today?
Yeah, I felt like the cycle was pretty short myself. The LFS guy gave me some sort of nitrifying bacteria starter to throw in the tank right away. I'm not sure if that helped it start cycling faster or not. So far everything has been pretty healthy as far as water parameters. I lost one snail, but other than that all the livestock has been happy.

I just got my salifert test kits and my first full test came out as:

Temp 78°F
Salinity 1.024
Ph ~8.0
Alk 12.1
NO3 ~20
Calc 400
MG 1230

I did a small water change because I didn't want my nitrates that high. I realize the alk is a little high as well.

Here is the pic I put in the first post under current running
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There are some more updates, but I need to write up the posts.
 
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Fire_Reefer

Supporting Member
Haha my bad
@PeetaJai see post above. I edited it to respond to your question.

I hope my tank journal doesn't make me come off like a know it all, because I definitely don't know it all. I look forward to hearing feedback from all of you who have done this before. Also I know that I have probably made some mistakes that I should have already learned from others.

I'm writing out each one of these posts a couple months after the fact. My goal is for them to be a little entertaining and also to keep a record of my story for myself down the line.

Thanks for reaching out!
 

newfly

Supporting Member
I didn't see these posts until today. Thanks for the offer guys! I might have to take you up on that once I head up to the bay area again... I wish I had seen your posts, I was just up there last week *face-palm...

@newfly i don't have a printer... Next time I'm up in the bay area I would be down to meet up and check out your setup. Did you also print a plug for the lower intake hole? I'm in search for one of those as well.

@H2OPlayar Yeah the fresh water tank took a turn for the worse... The plants I did have in that pic are all shells of their former selves... I had a huge brown algae outbreak and it coated all of the leaves and they all started rotting. Now I have mostly stems. When you introduce the live rock are you worried about the other hitchhikers that might come along as well?

I can print the plug for you. Takes only a few mins. You're welcome to see my setup. I have a 65g main display and the fluval is my QT setup.

My advise is take the LFS advise with a grain of salt. :) Some are honest and knows what they are doing but some just want to sell you stuff. Slow down on adding corals or more stuff to you tank. Enjoy the journey. :)
 
@PeetaJai see post above. I edited it to respond to your question.

I hope my tank journal doesn't make me come off like a know it all, because I definitely don't know it all. I look forward to hearing feedback from all of you who have done this before. Also I know that I have probably made some mistakes that I should have already learned from others.

I'm writing out each one of these posts a couple months after the fact. My goal is for them to be a little entertaining and also to keep a record of my story for myself down the line.

Thanks for reaching out!
I love these posts. They are for sure funny and entertaining. I actually find the parts with tequila to be the funniest!
 

PeetaJai

Supporting Member
I can print the plug for you. Takes only a few mins. You're welcome to see my setup. I have a 65g main display and the fluval is my QT setup.

My advise is take the LFS advise with a grain of salt. :) Some are honest and knows what they are doing but some just want to sell you stuff. Slow down on adding corals or more stuff to you tank. Enjoy the journey. :)
I agreed.
 
From personal experience I can say that it took me 6-7 weeks to get my tank cycled properly. Lot of errors made on the way and learned a lot of things for next time. The good news is that clown fish are super hardy. Even if your tank is not 100% cycled clown fish usually can survive without problem. I am not advocating that you do this but I'm just saying.
 

H2OPlayar

Supporting Member
@H2OPlayar Yeah the fresh water tank took a turn for the worse... The plants I did have in that pic are all shells of their former selves... I had a huge brown algae outbreak and it coated all of the leaves and they all started rotting. Now I have mostly stems. When you introduce the live rock are you worried about the other hitchhikers that might come along as well?
Me? No. Other people in the hobby? Yes. I feel like (especially on a first tank) you can deal with any of the pests and things go much smoother when you kick start the tank with rubble and pods from another mature tank. I know I have some aptasia in my sump, but none in my display because my peppermint shrimp eat them.
 

Fire_Reefer

Supporting Member
Lots of updates... Let's see if I can work through them quickly.

April
The clowns settled in and made themselves at home.
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Added a sand sifting star to the CUC. I got a little worried because everything I read online said they would starve, but 3 months in it seems like it's doing pretty good.
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One month in I grabbed my first corals. A red and a green mushroom.
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Then a couple weeks later, after the mushrooms were doing well, I added a couple more corals. A very tiny xenia frag, some GSP, and a few $10 zoa/paly frags.
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Red discoma looking healthy and happy.
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A couple weeks later I splurged a little and grabbed a "gold indo torch" and a duncan for $20 each
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Fire_Reefer

Supporting Member
May
Started off the month by catching a baby deer in our basement light well.
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Then noticed for the first time that our trochus snails had babies!
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The duncan got pretty large and happy looking.
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For the longest time I wasn't sure if this really was xenia. But looking at it now it most definitely is.
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The GSP, palys, and zoa
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Green mushroom really opening up. Starfish doing starfish things.

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So here is where I went with my wants over everyone's advice about new tanks. I really wanted an anemone. I hadn't really discovered BAR and I didn't know how often people give these away. My LFS had them for sale for $70 so when I saw one for sale for $50 I got super excited and had to have it. Obviously, looking back on it I didn't need to spend that money.

But I drove to Santa Cruz to pick up this little bugger.
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The torch started to look a little better and the tentacles started getting longer.
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vissen319

Supporting Member
That is coming up really nicely. I have a fluval 13.5 gal as well, and I am thinking of converting into a reef tank. Are you still using stock lighting for your setup?

Also, I am curious about your water changes. Do you do those regularly?

The updates are very entertaining. keep them coming!
 
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