Nano Reefs

…and everything smaller!

Postby Mick e. t. » 2005-11-17 15:30

Hi Guys,
I need all the info on starting up a nano reef. My only ever experience with marines was back in the mid 70's and they were not mine they were my brothers. All I can remember is that he didn't have much success. Right, from start to finish, please, remember I,m now a marine :new: Hope you can help,
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Postby Kev » 2005-11-17 15:33

lol, thats another one converted *adds a tally to the list* <_<

Anyway, what I need to know is what tank size you plan on having, from this I can then tell you which equipment will be best for the job.
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Postby Dan0504 » 2005-11-17 16:01

ill let Kev take this one, but be sure to carefully plan evreything, never do anything on a whim in saltwater
1 55g reef<br>1 38g FOWLR<br>2 10g Nano Reef<br>1 10g freshwater <br>1 5g betta
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Postby Mick e. t. » 2005-11-17 18:20

how long you been at it Dan0504? by the looks of those pics I'de say awhile. Really impressed with those pictures,
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Postby Dan0504 » 2005-11-17 18:34

about 4 years, i got my first saltwater at 13, it failed lol but freshwater wise maby 6-7
1 55g reef<br>1 38g FOWLR<br>2 10g Nano Reef<br>1 10g freshwater <br>1 5g betta
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Postby Kev » 2005-11-18 08:28

ok Mick, I got your PM so lets go :D .....

<span style='font-size:14pt;line-height:100%'>Part 1: The Equipment</span>

First off you will need all the equipment that is needed, I will talk you through all the equipment that will be needed for the size of tank you have.

Tank
Obviously, this bit is sorted now so I do not need to say much about it. You tank is 30"x12"x15" which is about 20 gallons, a perfect size for a first Nano (I had to go a lot smaller :rolleyes: ) The parameters should be a lot more stable with it being a slightly larger Nano.

Filtration
This is one of the larger topics that need to be covered (the other being lighting) First off you need to decide if you want the tank drilling to have a sump or not. If you are keeping the bio-load low you will not really need a sump as all it does is just increases the water volume so more can be kept (it also provides some good filtration.

One of the key ways to filtrate is Live Rock. Live rock provides biological filtration and it also creates a great effect in the reef aquarium. There are usually hitch-hikers that come on Live Rock, he majority not being too bad, others can cause problems. You need enough Live Rock to filtrate your tank, aswell as enough to create a visually pleasing layout, which will be covered in the setting up part.

If you decide not to go for a sump it may be a good idea to invest in a skimmer. These great contraptions drag so much s**t out of the aquarium it is unbelievable. Even if you did go for a sump it would still be a good idea to go for a skimmer but it wouldn't be as necessary.

Lighting
This is another big topic in Reef-keeping. It all depends on what you want to keep. If you wanted to keep low light or none photosynthetic corals then you could go for Power Compacts (PCs) 50/50 PCs tend to be sed a lot in marine reef-keeping. 50/50 PCs are pretty much 2 tubes lay side by side, one is Daylight and the other is Blue Actinic. The other option is to go down the route of Metal Halides, the only problem with these is that:

1) The tank can not have a closed lid, it must be open
2) They can be quite pricey
3) They do get hot so make sure they are not touched and make sure it is not too close to the waters surface.

Metal Halides will allow you to grow quite a variety of Light loving Inverts. The best ones to go for would be something like this

<a href='http://reefbuilders.co.uk/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=22&products_id=274' target='_blank'>http://reefbuilders.co.uk/catalog/product_...products_id=274</a>

but not the 5k version, only the 13k version as the colour temperature on the 5k is not good enough for keeping any corals.

The choice on lighting is really up to you but personally for a tank that size I would go for Metal Halide.

Other Equipment to get started
ok, so the above articles are the main ones that need to be taken into consideration, the rest of the equipment is pretty much common sense.

Salt: There are a range of different salts out there that can be used. I personally use Tropic Marin sea salt. I find it the best to you for smaller tanks, the only downside is that it is slightly more expensive. If you are able to get to the 'Big Blue Aquatic Warehouse' in Blackpool at all then they are a discounted retailers. I picked up a 4kg box of Tropic Marin for about ?11 where as in the LFS it would have cost me more along the lines of ?16-17. I would say choose a brand of salt and stick to it, I do not know the effect of mixing different brands of salt but I personally would not try it.

Hydrometer: This simple piece of equpiment...... all reef-keepers would be lost without it. You use this to measure the sg of water you are mixing up. They are quite cheap pieces of equipment if you get the right one. You can choose either the floating type hydrometer or a swing arm hydrometer. The floating one you just place in the mixed water and read off the sg where the water level is on the hydrometer. On the swing arm type you fill it with the mixture and the arm will mover and point at the current sg.

Gravel/ Sand: The choice of this is purely up to you. I personally use gravel that is made specially for Marine tanks, although it can be used in very hard water set ups aswell. This is due to its buffering capabilities. You could alternatively go for sand, it is really up to you on this one.

Live Rock: I mentioned earlier the filtration side of Live Rock, now I am going to mention the visual side of it. When buying Live Rock it will tend to be the LFS staff that get it out of the holding tank for you. Ask them whether it is cured or not. Cured Live Rock will tend to help the cycle get along that bit quicker, although, Un-cured Live Rock will help get the cycle along due to the die off inside it and on the surface of it. You will need enough to create a visually pleasing structure. The most common structure is the 'wall' layout, this can be quite boring so others have been created, such as the 'Island' layout, this is the one I went for in my 5g Nano. And the 'Canyon' layout, this is probably the most effective, it consistes of 2 smaller islands with a gap inbetween know as the 'canyon'

Test Kits: I personally use a Red Sea master test kit as it includes the main tests that are needed (pH, Ammonia, Nitrate, Nitrite, Alkalinity) There are test kits out there that can be used on Saltwater and Freshwater but a seperate Saltwater test kit would be better.

Water Movement: You will need plenty of water movement in your tank, this can be provided by powerheads. You will probably need wither 1 bigger powerhead or 2 smaller ones in your tank, or you could have 2 bigger ones (1 on each side) and alternate them on and off every so often to create a sort of wave simulator.

Water Purification: You will need RO water when doing water changes on your reef and even when setting it up. The inability to use RO water will show because you will have huge algae problems due to the excess of nutrients in the water.

Heating: To keep the temeperature stable you will need a heater. Just a regular heater will do and you need to set it at about 24c as this is the optimum temperature for Marine tanks.

Cooling: You may need to invest in a cooler if your tank gets too hot, or alternatively you can somehow wire a couple of 12v computer fans up and use them for cooling (believe me, they work a treat)

A word of warning, if any of the equipment (excluding MH lighting) contains any Metal such as heater brackets, etc, you must not use them as they will corrode and leach metal extracts out into the water, this in turn can seriously injure your livestock, if not, kill it.

More will be added if there is anything I forgot.

That is it for the equipment side of things, the initial price is not cheap when starting off but once you have most of the items you will have them for good. The setting up process will be covered in Part 2
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Postby Mick e. t. » 2005-11-18 09:51

First class Kev, thanks. Awaiting part 2....As regards expense....ain't it always a problem :lol3:......hopefully over the new year, sales of my Malawi young will pay for it.....Ummm!
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Postby Mick e. t. » 2005-11-18 10:21

Hi Dan0504....That tank of yours, well I'm gob smacked again.....if by followings Kev's highly detailed info. and, I get anywhere near your standards then it will be a job well done by both of you....Kev for the information and you for showing just what can be achieved....I hope that other nano reef wannabes take note/s
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Postby Kev » 2005-11-18 11:07

Thanks Mick :D Part 2 will be added when I get back from college, it will take you through all aspects of setting up a Nano-reef.

(I may put this article into the articles section ^_^ )
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Postby Mick e. t. » 2005-11-19 01:53

I think you should
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Postby Kev » 2005-11-19 07:41

Sorry for not writing the other article yesterday, I was called into work for overtime, I was fit for nothing as I was in college aswell lol :P I finish today at 2pm so hopefully it will be done then :D
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Postby Mick e. t. » 2005-11-19 17:11

No date line, no worries :woot: Yeah!
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Postby Dan0504 » 2005-11-20 18:45

wasnt here missed the posts, anyways Kevs got you coverd
1 55g reef<br>1 38g FOWLR<br>2 10g Nano Reef<br>1 10g freshwater <br>1 5g betta
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Postby Kev » 2005-11-20 19:05

Part 2 is getting typed as we speak
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Postby Kev » 2005-12-06 10:25

<span style='font-size:14pt;line-height:100%'>Part 2: Setting Up</span>

The next part is the fun part, the setting up.

First you need to decide where you want to have your tank. The best place would be somewhere that has very little or no direct sunlight as it can cause quite a bit of algae trouble. Also, make sure the stand is either specifically made for your aquarium, or you can make sure the proposed stand can hold the weight.

To get a bit of a head start you can mix your saltwater at least 24 hours before using it, this is due to the fact that once saltwater is mixed the pH will rise, fall then rise to a steady pH which is usually about 8.1-8.5

First off you need to get all the equipment into the tank first, such as power heads, heating, and if you have chosen to go for one, you will set your sump up. The reason for doing this when the tank is dry is because many pieces of equipment use suction cups to hold them in place and when you attach them in water they will stick better than if they were attached whilst wet. Do not add the gravel/sand at this stage if you have your live rock, if not then just add it now.

Start by filling your tank up to half way with your saltwater mix that you have already made. Once full to half way you can add the bottom layer of live rock and then add the Gravel/sand to secure it. Now you can just fill the tank up the rest of the way. Once full you can add the rest of your live rock and switch all your equipment on (heater, lighting, power heads, pumps, etc)

Nor for the least fun part of setting up, cycling. There is bound to be some die off on the live rock which is very likely to kick start the cycle. The live rock itself has the bacteria for biological filtration, and these bacteria will spread out and will also start living in the gravel/sand. When cycling your tank will go through a stage called the Diatom bloom. This is nothing too bad and it will eventually die off leaving you with the basis of a Reef. Whilst the tank is cycling you will need to test for Ammonia and Nitrite, once both of these have dropped to zero you can then start adding Live Stock.

Part 3 will look at Live stock and Maintenance of a Nano Reef

(Sorry about the wait Mick ^_^)
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