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Long time FW about to try 1st Reef

PostPosted: Sun Jan 28, 2018 1:21 pm
by Ash
I've had fresh water tanks for about 25 years from high school, through college, and in a couple different homes. This weekend I started my first adventure with saltwater/reef and I could use some advice. Please read the part about the BioCube and give any tips/input you care to share.

Current Setups:

75g+55g+55g bridged tanks for Mbuna Cichlids (Maingano, Acei, Red zebra, Cobalt, Kenyi, and an albino). Also keep some clown loaches and siamese agae for sand and glass clearing. 75g tank is main tank with most of the adults. First 55g is a grow out tank with young ones and smaller stuff. Second 55g is a refugium and has lots of extra lava rock for bio media mostly but some of the females have figure out that if they go there to spit their fry, they are as safe as possible from the adults. BTW, I just had a Red Zebra spit about 20 fry so if anyone needs some, just let me know. I'm getting over stocked with all the fry that keep surviving.

70g corner community tank in living room. Home to a large featherfin catfish, and a mix of tetras, platys, mollies, oto cats and a couple female betas.

40g breeder tank in the bedroom
(instead of a tv). Also a community tank with glo-fish tetras and other tetras, peppered cory cats, a ghost cat, and some Oto cats.

Latest Edition - Coralife Biocube29 reef cube. Again, this is my first attempt at a saltwater tank. Looking for advice on the next 4-6 weeks of slow ramp up with the goal of having soft corals, a few small fish, and a cleaner crew. Live rock was all dry to start. Got some established tank water (15 gallons) from a friend and mixed an additional 10 with Red Sea Coral Pro Salt. I have the option get get a piece of establish live rock from my friend's sump as well to accelerate the cycle.

I am struggling with the choice between bare-bottom and a light sand bed (1 inch or so).
Bare-Bottom Pros:
1) Easy to clean and maintain. With proper circulation, very little cleaning of bottom of tank needed.
2) I'm liking the look without sand.
3) Water stays clear with high circulation.

Bare-Bottom Cons:
1) Not as much total surface area in the tank for beneficial bacteria to colonize. Because the limited size of the back sump area, I have some concerns about having enough biomedia. I'm hoping the small refugium, the amount of live rock (over 20lbs) and the eventual use of the skimmer will allow it to thrive without a sand bed.
2) Not as much light reflection back up to corals until some of the coral algae forms on the glass (or other corals).

Sandbed Pros:
1) I've never had crabs and I enjoy watching hermits. Need sand for those to be happy right?
2) Using a bag of live sand to speed up the cycle is appealing.

Sandbed Cons:
1) More cleanup involved.
2) Less circulation possible without causing a "sand storm" unless using large grain sand which kills some of the cool sand cleaning species.
3) Seem more prone forming algae (anecdotal) and always being a little "dirty".

Biggest question I have (still reading up on this) is the progression of what to add and when over the next month depending on if I use the accelerated cycling options or not.
1) What should I use as a food source (ammonia creator) while cycling? Should I use a small, hardy fish to feed the cycle?
2) At what points do I:
A) Add a cleanup crew?
B) Add really hardy and easy soft corals?
C) Add "good" algae to the refugium and turn on the light for it at night?
D) Start using the skimmer?

My plan for week 1:
* Get water mixed (and borrowed) with a target salinity of 35ppm (DONE)
* Setup of filter system and get water circulating (DONE)
* Aquascape live rock arrangement and affix pieces together to prevent falls.
* Run tank for ? days without protein skimmer active or purigen in tank (in progress).
* Filter system during this time consists of a polyfil pad, then a phosphate removal pad, then a bag of activated carbon, then some live rock rubble.
* Leave NANO GLO light off until I can get some kaeto? algae for the fuge basket. Wait until cycle is complete for this?

Biocube default setup is modded with:
    AI Prime web programmable LED light
    Aquatic Life 115 Mini Skimmer
    inTank media rack and fuge basket
    NANO GLO LED refugium light
    couple of nano circulation pumps