Archive for Reefkeeping

Nano Cube 24G #2

The NanoCube has been taking shape slowly but surely. I have been replacing about 10% of the water (or close to it) with RO/DO water every Friday, rinsing out the foam pads and cleaning the glass.

I have also been adding one livestock item every couple of weeks. So far I have added about (in addition to what was already in the tank) ten more small, blue legged hermit crabs, a cameback shrimp, a black brittle sea star, a small sebae anemone and a couple of small coral frags. I have also had numerouf fan worms pop out of one of the live rocks and they are growing big everyday. I feed them every two days with small peices of “Prime Reef” and with a couple of drops of phytoplankton. The False clown eats readily from my fingers and the rest of the food gets moved around the tank before the hermit crabs, the anemone and the starfish finish the food.

Now for some gory details on the livestock. The sebae and the camelback shrimp were probably a bad idea, but they are there nonetheless. The sebae was creamish in color when I brought it home from the LFS with purple tips on its tentacles. I understand that a healthy anemone is a lot darker with pigments. I also did not realize how finicky the anemone can be in the tank. I had placed him on top of the rocks with lots of light and water flow. He kept moving till he ended up in the bottom wedged between rocks. In trying to be a good samaritan, I tried moving him to a better spot, only to find him back to where he was in the first place. I have left him there to get better situated. He eats peices of prime reef that I break off for him and place close to his mouth though I have not seen him actually keep it inside him for long. The camelback shrimp is very skittish and hides all day to come out only at night or during feeding times. The brittle star is great. He eats anything and everything. I will put small capsules of dried shrimp in front of him just to watch him manipulate the food and put it in his mouth. He too is a night crawler.

I have a small zooanthis frag that opened up its polyps in a few minutes after being introduced into the tank. The other is a tree like soft coral the name of which escapes me at the moment. They are both very new and time will tell how they do.

I still like the Nano Cube but I wish there were some things that were different about my setup. The curved glass of the NanoCube is very annoying since the magentic glass cleaner needs quite a few more strokes to get the glass clean. The filter compartment is hard to clean and service. That design needs to be changed or they need to provide better access to that section. There also needs to be space for tubes and fitting to get into the tank without leaking light. I really want to use a protein skimmer but there is no way to put that into the tank without cutting/breaking the plastic top of the tank. I am going to use some kind of a organic matter filter in the immiediate future. Also, there are a few too many biological filters in the tank (bioballs/ceramic rings). I am going to remove both for the time being since the tank is cycling nicely and they will just build nitrates in the tank.

Check back in another couple of months for an update! PS: I spend about 50 bucks every two weeks on livestock, water, salt and other ingredients.

[EDIT] removing the bioballs and ceramic rings makes my water a little more cloudy than I want which means that the live rock is not providing sufficient biological filtration (yet). This would be indication that the tank needs to be cycled some more. I am replacing more water now than I had mentioned in the post to make sure that the ammonia and nitrate levels remain at a constant low.

Nano Cube 24G #2

THe Nano Cube has been sitting and cycling for some time. I have added some livestock into it already and have been petrified that I will kill everything in there with my over enthusiasm. I have about four Rocket Snails and a couple of “Nemo’s”. The snails are nice because they keep the algae to a minimum and the fish are scredy cats, but are slowly starting to eat.

To recap, I have been cycling the Nano cube for about three weeks now, I have about 8 pounds of live rock, about an inch and a half of crushed coral substrate, and the water parameters are holding up nicely (too nicely in my opinion). I check the water once a week when I do a small partial water change and Nitrate and Nitrite seem to be close to or at 0 ppm. Ammonia rises and falls, but stays within the lowest place in the chart. I did follow the advice of a commenter and start using RO water exclusively for my water changes and have been happy with the results.

The more time I spend with the Nano Cube, the more I dislike the design. The filters are placed in the back which makes filter cleaning quite a chore and I end up putting a lot of the detritus from the sponges back into the water. I have to be really careful to remove the filter and put it back. On one such water change, I stirred up so much stuff that I thought I was going to stifle the poor Clown fish. I wish the nano had better access to the filter compartment and had more places to put inlet tubes and wires into it.

I will let it cycle for another week before adding anymore livestock, but the next order of purchase will be a shrimp of some kind. I am worried that crustaceans are really susceptible to water parameter changes, but the uneaten food in the tank is a problem. The clowns are very young and they only will eat frozen food. In addition, they are very very jumpy and scared and the food ends up everywhere. I even cut the smallest frozen food cubes into six or seven smaller peices to keep uneaten food to a minimum. I just think a nice hermit crab or peppermint shrimp would love the stuff floating around.

I would like to see some corraline algea before I buy any corals or such but I see a couple of very young feather dusters beginning to take shape. I hope there are many more to come. The harder I work on keeping this Nano Cube reef, the more excited I get about it and the more fun it becomes!

Nano Cube Reef 24G #1

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!)

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Put in tank decorations including in kind of base rock (NOT live rock). Fill Tank
  4. 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)
  5. Plug in grounding probe, powerhead with pre-filter (if you have one) and protein skimmer on lowest setting
  6. 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.
  7. 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! :)