29G bio-cube as first "reef" tank?

Discussion in 'New to Reefing' started by elpaninaro, Dec 22, 2007.

  1. elpaninaro

    elpaninaro

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    Good evening all,

    My first post in what looks a great forum. I look forward to participating here.

    This past year I have come back to the aquarium hobby (been away since school days) and have had a lot of fun in putting together a freshwater South American cichlid tank with live plants and all. It has gone well, thanks in large part to an amazing LFS, and I could not be more happy with all the first time things for me (like live plants) which have gone well.

    I would like now to branch out into saltwater reefs, and seek some general thoughts. My LFS is great and will be there to guide me, but I have had a very hard time finding nano-reef info online and wanted to get some opinions here if I may.

    At present I am in an apartment, and a second large tank is not only impossible- but since I plan to move in about 16 months to a permanent home I do not want to get anything too big going only to tear it down so quickly.

    I also want to start with the smallest investment possible while also getting the appropriate setup to properly house invertebrates and fish.

    Given all that, I am thinking about getting an Oceanic 29G Bio-Cube and adding the protein skimmer plus maybe a heater (my apartment gets into the high 60s at night during the winter- hence the heater.)

    I have access to great cured live rock, and the plan was to set up the tank next week- add about 25-30 pounds of well-aged cured live rock plus live sand- and then once cycled add my other items.

    My general stocking scheme plans (which would be gradual based on what water testing indicates the tank can handle in increments) are as follows,

    1. Live rock with some soft corals attached plus live sand.
    2. A percula clown with a long tentacled anemone.
    3. Either a yellow watchman (goby I think it was) or a goby paired with a companion shrimp.
    4. Maybe a third fish- but if so a very small one.
    5. Emerald crabs (the live rock with corals I have access to also has some good algae growth.)
    6. A sand sifting star or a small conch for the substrate.
    7. Maybe a Harlequin shrimp- I am still pondering whether I want to sentence a chocolate star to its death every 2 weeks by adding it to the tank- and have to keep watch and remove them once they die.
    8. A feather duster.
    9. Depending on the outcome of #7, 1-2 other small invertebrates- at least one a shrimp that serves some cleaning function.
    10. A few small Trochus snails to help with algae.
    11. Small fragments of 1-2 live hard corals to grow out- the LFS has a whole tank of them at reasonable prices.

    I would be grateful for any general feedback you can offer on the overall concept or on specific issues. In particular I hope for feedback on the Harlequin shrimp idea. They are very beautiful, but I worry about the amount of waste released into the tank as one slowly consumes a starfish.

    Once I move into a home, I will be able to set up a large reef tank that could accomodate all that I am testing out now. And if not, I will do the right thing and get all these creatures to good homes.

    The goal now is to try and start small- but keep it varied if I can to begin the learning process. I seek guidance on getting a good balance between learning in real time with as many things as possible versus not biting off more than I can chew- or overstocking the tank.

    Thanks for any thoughts!

    Tom.
     
    elpaninaro, Dec 22, 2007
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  2. elpaninaro

    Bifferwine I am a girl

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    Hello Tom! Welcome! It sounds like you've already done a bunch of research. Good job!

    The smaller the tank, the more difficult it is to maintain and keep stable. A 29 gallon tank will be tough, but is totally doable.

    I would suggest adding more live rock than what you stated. I prefer the look of 2 lbs per gallon, plus the live rock acts as your biological filtration -- the more live rock you have, the better water quality you'll have.

    A sand sifting star won't survive in a small tank such as yours. It will very quickly starve to death. I would instead go with the conchs (like you stated) and also some nassarius snails, which are AWESOME.

    I would definitely advise against any anemone. They are extremely difficult to keep alive. Usually they don't survive in small tanks or tanks that are less than a year old. They also have intense lighting requirements. And if they get sick or die, they will wipe out everything else in your tank with them. Keep in mind that the anemone is not necessary to have a clown. The clown will be perfectly happy without one.

    You could easily add a third (or fourth) fish to that stocking list.

    One or two emerald crabs will be fine. You also may want to get one or two turbo snails to help with any algae. And a handful of astraea snails will keep the glass clean for you.

    The harlequin shrimp is up to you. They are cool looking, that's for sure, but you are aware of their feeding requirements, so if you want to add one, go for it, but like you said, water quality might become an issue with feeding it.

    Hope this helped a bit.
     
    Bifferwine, Dec 22, 2007
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  3. elpaninaro

    Doc I don't work for anybody

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    I agree about avoiding the nem. also, keep your stocking to about 6-7 inches of fish for your tank. I would add some sort of biological filtration in addition to the live rock. Many of us run carbon or a carbon derivitive (chemipure) in our tanks to keep the water CRYSTAL clear. I would put a time frame of about 2 months of your tank up and running before adding any shrimp, they tend to be sensitive about water quality and I would hate for you to drop in a shrimp only to watch it hit the bottom and curl up to die (yup, you guessed it, I have done it).

    You will have lots of room for corals in that tank. I would advise that you seek to grow more coral than fish in that set up. Heavily stocking a small tank usually spells disaster. As for the size of the tank, watch out for evaporation. In a tank that size, evap can increase your salinity fast. Have water available 24 /7 for top off to keep the salt level healthy.

    Looking forward to pics and welcome to the forum!

    -Doc
     
    Doc, Dec 22, 2007
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  4. elpaninaro

    reeffreak

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    Read the blue bold.Sorry,I have Alheimer's
    Good luck and welcome to Living Reefs.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2007
    reeffreak, Dec 22, 2007
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  5. elpaninaro

    elpaninaro

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    Big thanks to all 3 of you for some great feedback! I appreciate it.

    I will forgo the anemone for now as advised, and without that I am not tied to a clownfish and can just open the field to consider other things.

    One quick followup if I may on the cycling issue that was alluded to in some of your replies- the live rock I have access to has been in a local tank for several years and would be transported right to my home.

    Given that, is there still a long cycling process? I am ok being patient on adding fish etc., but I was under the impression that with this scenario there would not be a large die-off necessarily that could put attached soft corals at risk.

    As much as this rock is going to cost, I really only want to go there if I am not risking a full new cycling that could kill the attached corals.
     
    elpaninaro, Dec 24, 2007
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  6. elpaninaro

    Doc I don't work for anybody

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    the cycle will also be started with the substrate. If you are going bare-bottom (i don't recommend it) then no cycle. If you use dry and and live rock, you will get a cycle. If you don't want anything, use the mature rock, live sand (argonite) AND mature water (for at least half of your water). Mix up 50% new water and see of you can take clean water from someones established tank (not from the bottom of the tank). That really makes a difference.

    -Doc
     
    Doc, Dec 24, 2007
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  7. elpaninaro

    reeffreak

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    That mature live rock should have plenty of beneficial bacteria so you will either get an instant cycle or a short lived one.I recommend getting a few pounds of live sand from that tank if possible.The rest can be the bagged dry aragonite.Make sure its aragonite sand and not crush coral.
     
    reeffreak, Dec 25, 2007
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  8. elpaninaro

    yote Ceritfied Mantis Hunter Moderator

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    Welcome to the reef.
    Every body else already has you covered pretty good.
     
    yote, Dec 26, 2007
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  9. elpaninaro

    elpaninaro

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    Thank you for the followup info.

    I will be able to get stable live sand- possibly from the same aquarium as the live rock- and that is in the plans.

    I had not thought about asking for some of the water too- good call and I am sure that can be arranged.

    Take care,

    Tom.
     
    elpaninaro, Dec 26, 2007
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  10. elpaninaro

    UnderwaterWorld

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    Austin Texas? My uncle and aunt live there, it's a nice place


    Yea get matured live sand, rock, and water if you can!
     
    UnderwaterWorld, Dec 26, 2007
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  11. elpaninaro

    elpaninaro

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    Yup- good old Austin, Texas. Been tempted to move back to Houston, but still pondering it. That is one reason I have held off a bit on starting this new tank- but I should have it all figured out very soon.
     
    elpaninaro, Dec 26, 2007
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  12. elpaninaro

    UnderwaterWorld

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    yea I've been there twice, the last time was 2 yrs ago or so.

    I wouldn't go to Houston but that's just me.

    Yea get that tank running!!! and post lots of pics in your build thread!
     
    UnderwaterWorld, Dec 26, 2007
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  13. elpaninaro

    hen750rr

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    that guy elpaninaro, dont listen to him. i have a 24 gal nano tank running for about 1 year now. i have 2 clown( black) and a RBTA( rose bubble tip anemone) i got it small now its getting huge.. its healthy as it can be. that guy makes it seem like 29 gal isnt good . hes wrong, just more taking care of thats it
     
    hen750rr, May 26, 2009
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  14. elpaninaro

    mblack VIP Member

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    it's good to see someone thoroughly researching their tank before starting, i'm sure you'll be very successful.

    Without trying to change the tone of this thread, although the post above may have already done this. I would say to listen to the advice given by the majority regarding the anemone, which you have said you will do. Keeping a nem in a 29 gallon is possible but it is not recommended and certainly not for beginners and definitely not within the first year. You might be fortunate and have no problems or, as others have said, it may die and kill everything in the tank. The water quality needs to be spot on, which is very difficult for a beginner (we've all been there) and your lighting would need to be fairly decent.

    Anyway, good luck in the hobby you seem to be pretty sensible so i'm sure you'll have no problem
     
    mblack, May 27, 2009
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  15. elpaninaro

    sen5241b

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    You want to save some money? Put the tank where it won't overheat. Chillers are very expensive. A fan might cool it though. Collect and cure your own LR.

    I have the biocube and I strongly recommend you do not put LR in chamber 2 many people do this. Put it in the main display. Putting it back there accomplishes little or nothing.

    I took a razor and carefully scraped the black paint off the back wall over chamber 2. Then I put 2 15 watt Halogen bulbs 2 inches from the glass. (Halogens are not the best choice because they generate too much heat --try a 30 watt plant light). I filled chamber 2 with a big chunk of chaeto --my nitrates dropped to zero. I also have chemipure in the bottom of chamber 2 weighed down by a small piece of rock. Where the water flows into chamber 2 I have a piece of floss to get more crud out. I replaced the stock pump in chamber 3 with a RIO 6hf and added loc-lines on the output to direct flow in 2 directions --one with a rotating spout. I eliminated the elbow in chamber 3 to increase flow. I also put a Koralia 1 in the main display that pushes water under the rock. I recommend getting a 30G powerhead instead of the Koralia though because the Koralias are big and ugly. I have the cheap Oceanic biocube skimmer and its not the greatest but it will get some crud out.

    I left the top and bottom grates in chamber 2. I knocked out the false bottom in chamber 1 by cutting the black silicone with a kitchen knife and put the heater in there.

    [​IMG]

    The stock lights are not enough to do advanced corals so you might want to upgrade to a Sunpod 20" eventually.
     
    sen5241b, May 27, 2009
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