I have been setting up a Nono Cube as a Reef aquarium and the experience BEGS to be blogged and blogged it will be. I have been mostly quiet for the last couple of weeks, having been caught by an AdSense jail. If you do not know what that is, maybe it is a new phrase!
I had been planning to setup a reef tank for quite some time and the time and the money were right. I bought a 24 Gallon, JBJ Lighting Nano Cube from eBay. It was a good purchase and the seller was more than helpful. If anyone is considering buying one of these, I will be glad to set you up with Joe Granato. Good guy, good prices. I digress.
I had done a lot of reading on Nano Cubes and Nano Reefs but every suggestion was different. The only common strain was that it was expensive, filled with frustration and very, very patience intensive. My only problem with this formula was the expense. I do not consider myself an expert aquarist but I have reared African Cichlids with relative success for quite a while now and I know my way around freshwater fish. That hobby is cheap compared to reefkeeping, but the rewards are HUGE and I really look forward to the trials and tribulations. The Nano Cube was a good choice for me because of a few reasons. The unit is self contained for the most part. The glass aquarium is curved and contains two 36Watt 50/50 Actinic and 10,000 K bulbs with their own ballasts, just about enough for a reef tank. There is a three stage filter built into the back of the aquarium which is nice and out of the way. There is no heater or Protein skimmer, which is a problem. I have added a 50 watt pre-calibrated heater to the setup. I will probably get a SeaClone Protein Skimmer in a couple of months. The protein skimmer is going to require some serious modifications to the structure of the aquarium, but that will have to wait.
In the meantime, I have a found a reef store that is owned by “Gary”. He specializes in new reefkeepers and even had written instructions for setting up a new reef tank. His methods are completely unorthodox and do not match with anything that I have read or seen on the internet. But I believe him. He is friendly, courteous and a good businessman. Here are the first few steps according to him:
(PS: If you have read this far, you are probably interested in reefkeeping yourself and need to get yourself a rig!)
- You need to purchase the following:
- An aquarium, buy what you feel comfortable with, the larger the better. Just remember that you have to pre-mix the saltwater for every water change. For me, a 24 Gallon was plenty big since I did not want to pre-mix more than a couple of gallons every couple of weeks. (20% water change every 2 weeks) $100-Anywhere!
- A filtration system. Some reef places will say that three stage filtration systems are bad for reefs. The hobby has moved away from that philosophy. Get yourself at least 0.12 gallons per gallon per hour of water movement in terms of filtration. So in my case. I have a 24 gallon tank with a 200GPH (Gallons per hour) filter. Hang on filters are easy to maintain and very easy to setup. Cartridge filters are nice because they require little or no maintainance. I prefer the bio wheel kind, but thats just me. The more the water moves, the better. $30 Upwards
- A heater if you are in a cold clime. Twice the number of gallons is good. So a 24 G tank would do well with a 50W heater. Pre-calibrated (pre determined temperature settings) means you do not have to guess. Heaters do NOT do well plugged in and out of the water. $10 Upwards
- Lights. This is a sticky subject and anything you buy WILL be reaplced soon enough. You cannot have enough light in your reef tank. Start with at least 3.2 Watts per Gallon of water. More is better. A reef tank WILL require Actinic Lighting and/or Metal Halide if you can afford it. Start with small, buy more if you want or see something better. I have 2 36 Watt 50/50 Tubes which provide me with both the Acitinic Blue spectrum and the 10,000 Kelvin spectrum. Enough for now. $100 upwards
- Ground Probe. Saltwater aquariums are extremely prone to getting shorted out and any stray electrivity is really bad for your aquarium. Get yourself a ground probe that grounds your aquarium and kill stray electricity. About $10 bucks but worth it.
- Stress Coat and Stress Zyme. Essential chemicals that nutralize the chloramine and chlorine in your aquarium and provide beneficial bacteria for new aquariums. Do not be cheap here. These ten buks will prevent loss of livestock
- Crushed coral substrate. About 0.7 Pounds per gallon is needed. Buy more if you like. This crushed coral is REALLY particulate. It will cloud your water when you add it and there is not much to be done. Just wait.
- Misc items. Buy yourself a good net and a good thermometer if you do not already have one. Gravel vacs are cheap. Get one of those as well.
- Test Kit. I bought the Master test kit which is nice. I would have preferred a “dip” kit but thats the next purchase. I like the strip dip kits where you dip your strip and get the results in one shot. You WILL need a test kit. Get yourself the best value for all 4 tests (pH, Nitrate, Nitrite, Ammonia).
- Hydrometer. I bought myself the manual meter but I think I would have liked the lectronic one better. A little more expensive, but much less hassle.
- Base Rock. Buy as much as would look good in your quarium minus about ten pounds. Depending on the size of your aquarium.
- Protein Skimmer. You will need one. Air stone skimmers are crap. You can wait a couple of moneths before getting one. Venturi skimmers are nice but pricey. Thats the best option in any case. I have not gotten one but will get the SeaClone 100 soon.
- UV sterilizer. Again, you WILL need one, but can wait
- Chemi Pure. I swear by this product. It levels pH, removes unwanted metals and provides negative ions for the inhabitants. It keeps working for 6 months and so is cheap. Get a big bottle and install as directed. You will never know the difference, which is the secret.
- Setup tank and gently rinse the crushed coral and put in tank. Do not overrinse since the crushed coral is very, very “dirty” and WILL cloud your water no matter what you do.
- Put in tank decorations including in kind of base rock (NOT live rock). Fill Tank
- Put in salt into the tank, no need to pre-mix. Put in stress coat if using city water. Set thermometer temperature to 78 degrees (leave in water for 20 minutes before plugging in)
- Plug in grounding probe, powerhead with pre-filter (if you have one) and protein skimmer on lowest setting
- Wait till Day 4 to tet pH. Should be between 8.0 and 8.3/ Test Salt Level. Want it to be at 1.024. Fix accordingly.
- On Day 8, test pH and salt level. If the levels are right, add Stress Zyme to water (and seven days from that day and 14 days from that day and once a week after that). ADD LIVE ROCK on this day. About 1/3 pound per Gallon is sifficient. Make sure the live rock is not covered or restricted in any way. Water should flow freely and the live rock should make direct contact with the base rock.
Come back in exactly seven days for the rest of the story. I promise I will blog it!
PS: I will promote Gary. He is a good businessman and takes care of his customers. If you need help, equipment or anything else, just call him at (419) 874-6504 and ask for Gary. If he wants to know who sent you, just say Nano Cube Mark did! 🙂