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Old 11/13/2017, 01:03 PM   #1
Sardaukar
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A Simple Build, A Simple Goal

The Background: My last reef tank was taken apart nearly a decade ago. For a college student on a shoestring budget, it wasn't bad. Frogspawn, mixed zoas and a kenya tree all thrived, but even my best effort was not enough to get SPS to do more than die slowly. M. Digitata clung to life but didn't hold color and the few Acro frags I dared to try eventually withered away. The equipment wasn't bad, but I didn't have resources, time or knowledge to make it happen

I hadn't planned on coming back, but stopping into an LFS to get some goldfish food for my grandmothers pond brought it all back. The reef section was modest but it only a quick glance to get sucked into reefing once again. I immediately knew what I wanted to accomplish - those colorful, delicate, elusive SPS corals.

The Goal: To keep SPS colors in as simple, clean and pure of a tank as possible. The display should be free of distractions, attractive to view and cater to the needs of SPS. There should be a minimum of tools and gadgets used, and the tools that are used should be chosen purposefully. The tank should be easy to maintain and resistant to the crashes that seem to hang over so many SPS tanks like an executioners blade.

Instead of just jumping into it like last time, I have spent weeks reading everything I can on the subject of SPS keeping. To that end, I believe I have identified 4 criteria that must be met for success.
1) Low nutrient (nitrate/phosphate) water with stable Alk/Calc/Mg/Ph/Temp levels
2) High, random flow
3) Strong lighting in the correct spectrum
4) Coral food of the appropriate micron size

The Plan: When examining these four needs, I came across a style that seemed to leap out as perfectly designed to meet them: The 100% water change nano tank. By utilizing high volume (up to 100%) water changes frequently, and especially immediately following ultra heavy coral feeding, perfect water parameters can be maintained with a minimum of equipment. In other words, rather than utilize equipment to avoid water changes, I will utilize water changes to avoid equipment.

I no longer have the budget concerns of a college student, but a nano/pico tank will allow me to do these 100% water changes without spending a fortune on salt, and enable me to get away with less money spent on pumps and lighting.

Tank:
Oceanbox Designs 4.3g AIO acrylic tank
Since the tank will be barebottom, I feel comfortable using acrylic. This tank has 12"x12"x7" dimensions, providing a large footprint for many SPS corals while keeping the water volume low enough that 100% water changes are feasible. With a AIO capacity to hide the heater and powerful return pump, as well as provide basic mechanical filtration, this seems like a great choice.

Lighting:
AI Prime HD is an affordable, quality LED that should have no problem lighting a 12"x9.5" area. My only concern is that shade created as SPS grow may result in uneven color. To that end, I wonder if a pair of Kessil A80's angled toward the other side of the tank or a Nanobox Duo might not be better?

Pump:
Sicce 1.0 Return pump with a Random Flow Generator nozzle
While the SPS remain frags, my hope is that this will provide enough flow. If needed, a Gyre 2k or MP10 may be purchased to supplement flow.

Misc:
Cobalt NeoTherm 50w heater with temp controller
Fritz Reef Salt

~5 pounds of BRS Pukani Live rock
Smart ATO Micro
I hope to rely on water changes for as long as possible, but utilizing either 2 part dosing with pumps or Kalk in my top off water may be needed down the road.

Livestock:
Coral, a few snails and interesting small inverts that can survive the flow - Sexy Shrimp, Squat Lobster and Acropora crabs are all a possibility, and a single Cleaner Shrimp for movement is likely.

No fish

I debated about where to put what is ostensibly a build thread, but this seemed the most appropriate subforum. While I have seen tanks that come close to what I am envisioning, I have not yet really come across a sub 5 gallon tank loaded with SPS that does not embrace skimmers and other tools. I hope to create a clean SPS that on a very small scale.

I realize I have committed the cardinal sin of starting a thread with no pictures, but would love feedback while I wait for cyber Monday deals to purchase my equipment Thanks in advance!


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Old 11/13/2017, 09:33 PM   #2
chaudhry
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Sweet plan! I like your attention to detail.
My only concern is your size of the tank. The smaller the tank, lesser is the cushion you have. So no chance of error. Parameters can swing more quickly and drastically compared to a bigger tank.
If you can maintain it, there is nothing prettier than a small sps tank in this world!
Best of luck!


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Old 11/13/2017, 10:18 PM   #3
Lsufan
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U will have to be very careful doing the large water changes to make sure your params match perfectly. When I started out with sps about 5 years ago all I read was u want to have 0 nitrate & 0 phosphate for sps. I did that for years with not much succes. It was easy to do because I always only had 1 or 2 fish in a 40 breeder. I just never had much luck. The corals wouldn’t necessarily die, they wouldn’t grow at all or would grow very slowly. I had frags for close to a year that was still the same size as when I got them.

I read more & more about people dosing nitrate, so I decided to give it a shot thinking the coral was starving. The corals looked better almost instantly & after a couple months looked drastically improved. I would have to dose nitrate every day or two for it to not be zero. Once I found out that was my problem I didn’t want to have to rely on dosing nitrate so I got a few more fish & fed more. After getting more fish my nitrate stayed around 1 ppm & I finally started having more success with the sps. My lps always did ok but I think that was because I would feed them 3 or 4 times a week. The sps was starving, so u do need some nutrients.

I guess my point is that u may find it difficult without having any fish, but it’s not impossible. One thing I see in common when I would look at the beautiful sps tanks other then bright light & good flow, was they all had a bunch of fish.


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Old 11/14/2017, 06:00 AM   #4
topjimmy
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Sounds like a great tank. I think I might change the heater to a titanium or even a submersible glass. I have seen quite a few tanks killed by a cobalt heater that failed by splitting open.



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Old 11/14/2017, 06:26 AM   #5
reefmutt
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Subscribed. Curious to see how you do.
As mentioned, the tiny water volume and the potentially rapid growing sps may swing parameters very quickly..
you’ll have to keep an eye on nutrients and parameters closely.
Hopefully the snails will convert some algea into coral food for you.
Nice choice for light. With the extra kessils, you will be putting a lot of light in the tank.. be careful with the amount of white LEDs you use..


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Current Tank Info: 53x32.5x26 190g dt 60g of sumps 3 tank-100 gal frag system 6xAI prime 8xt5. 4x maxspect gyre. Skimz Dual internal sicce pump skimmer Deltec PF601s ca rx+Kalk stirrer
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Old 11/14/2017, 10:12 AM   #6
Sardaukar
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Thanks for the comments and feedback!

I will definitely be introducing food into the tank when I feed the shrimp/crabs - the lack of fish is largely because of the smaller size of the tank and to simplify things.

The water parameters will be an interesting challenge. I believe that initially, the water changes will enough to maintain Calc/Alk, and hope that once the demand from SPS rises that Kalk in my topoff water will be sufficient. Dosing pumps are an option but hopefully a last resort. I may end up with a few special SPS and more softies/LPS to fill in the tank in order to keep the calcium demand down.

Quote:
Originally Posted by topjimmy View Post
Sounds like a great tank. I think I might change the heater to a titanium or even a submersible glass. I have seen quite a few tanks killed by a cobalt heater that failed by splitting open.
I see, sounds good. Any specific recommendation?


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Last edited by Sardaukar; 11/14/2017 at 11:38 AM.
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Old 11/14/2017, 01:18 PM   #7
chaudhry
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Keep posting pictures on the way. Itís always fun to look at tank builts.
You always learn something new.


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Old 11/14/2017, 01:20 PM   #8
topjimmy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sardaukar View Post
Thanks for the comments and feedback!

I will definitely be introducing food into the tank when I feed the shrimp/crabs - the lack of fish is largely because of the smaller size of the tank and to simplify things.

The water parameters will be an interesting challenge. I believe that initially, the water changes will enough to maintain Calc/Alk, and hope that once the demand from SPS rises that Kalk in my topoff water will be sufficient. Dosing pumps are an option but hopefully a last resort. I may end up with a few special SPS and more softies/LPS to fill in the tank in order to keep the calcium demand down.


I see, sounds good. Any specific recommendation?
Eheim Jager

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