August 2013: Evansimp 20 gal & 40 gal Reef

Written by

TOTMFTS

INTRODUCTION:

Hello fellow aquarists, first off I just want to thank everyone form the forum for the great honor of Tank of the Month and I would like to thank all the wonderful people on here who have helped me through my journey. My name is Evan Simpkins, I am 19 years old and I got started in this hobby about a year and a half ago after learning about the show tanked. I know this show is very controversial, but without that show I wouldn’t be writing this or even be a part of this community so I for one am thankful for the show.

I started with a freshwater tank like most people getting into the hobby but soon went over to the salty side and I am so glad that I did. Having a reef aquarium is full of ups and downs but when things are great and I see this piece of the ocean in my room, it makes me so happy and proud that I am a part of this hobby. Apart from aquariums, my biggest hobby is photography. I have doing photography for about 5 years now, and it has become the center of my life. I hope to pursue it as a career and capture some timeless images over the years. If anyone is interested in viewing my photos, my website can be viewed at www.evansimpkinsphotography.com. But now back to aquariums; In this article I will be discussing my broken down 20-gallon Nano reef and the upgrade to my current 40-gallon reef.

SETUP:

20-Gallon Nano Reef

This tank was my 2nd saltwater tank (upgraded from a 12-Gallon) and I wanted to keep it very basic and simple. I am one who does a lot of research before I do anything, so going into this tank I knew that the equipment I had would work as long as I kept up with maintenance. I wanted this tank to show that a nano reef isn’t as hard as some people make it out to be and it is doable with very basic equipment. Now I don’t recommend someone go out and buy a stock kit from a local pet store and turn it into a reef, but it is very possible to make a tank with equipment that is simple and inexpensive. I know this tank has inspired some people to start a nano reef themselves and that makes me feel so accomplished. It’s such an honor to hear that this tank has inspired others.

 

Equipment:

  • Used 20-gallon glass tank off Craigslist
  • Stock HOB filter (rated for 20 gallon tank)
  • Chemi-Pure Elite for media in filter
  • 2 Hydor Koralia nano powerheads
  • Tetra heater rated for 10-gallon tank (I live in San Diego so it doesnÕt get to cold)
  • Bridgelux 120 watt LEDS (12 inches above water and on for 8 hours a day)
  • I used Scripps water (Ocean water that has gone through multiple stages of filtration that is free to the public and used by almost all reefers in San Diego)
  • No sump, skimmer, refugium, reactors, dosing etc. (Like I said, this was a very basic setup)

40-Gallon Reef

This tank was a big DIY project for me that worked out great. Before it was a reef, it was a community freshwater tank with nothing but a filter and heater and when I decided to make it a reef, I knew a lot had to be done.  This was my first tank that involved a sump, and so this in itself was a challenge. First I got the tank drilled for an overflow and return. Then I made the overflow, which is in the left corner of the tank and got all the plumbing done for that. I made the sump from a 10-gallon tank from Petco, and a few pieces of acrylic from a local store. I spray painted the back of the tank black, and used a Krylon fusion paint to paint the overflow. After all this was done, I needed the equipment for the tank. I am a young college student with a small budget, so I looked on craigslist and on my local reef forum for equipment. I picked up a used skimmer, used pump, and 2 used powerheads.

In my previous 20-Gallon tank, I had a big problem with spaghetti worms all over my tank. They are harmless to the tank but spread like wildfire and are very annoying to look at so I knew that I wanted to use dry rock in this tank. As I said mentioned before, I am a college student with a low budget, so I decided to use Texas Holey Rock as the main rock in this tank. I know what you all are thinking Texas Holey Rock for a reef tank? Let me explain. A local fish store here in San Diego sells a ton of this rock, and I have grown to really like the look of it. To me, if you have the right pieces it can look very natural once algae has covered the rocks. Many people say that this rock cannot hold beneficial bacteria is pretty much useless, so I made sure that I had a sump full of live rock and I have some liverock scattered around the tank. I really like the look of this rock and once a tank is completely stocked with coral you can barely see the rock.

Equipment:

  • Standard 40- gallon glass tank
  • DIY Overflow
  • DIY 10-gallon sump (liverock, refugium, skimmer, return pump)
  • Skimmer I bought used from a local reefer (rated for 65 gallons)
  • Rio 1700 return pump
  • 2 Hydor Koralia Powerheads 750 GPH
  • Jager Heater
  • Bridgelux 120-Watt LEDs
  • Scripps Water

 

MAINTENANCE:

20-Gallon Nano Reef

As you can probably tell in the equipment list for this tank, I had no skimmer and no sump. I knew going into this tank that without these elements, weekly water changes were necessary. Every week I did 5-gallon water changes on this tank using Scripps water. As I mentioned before, Scripps water is ocean water that has been filtered in multiple stages for the pure use of aquariums. It is free to the public and used by many aquarists in the San Diego area.

When it comes to testing water, I sadly don’t test as much as I probably should. I let my corals tell me how my water is doing; if I see corals that are closing or not thriving; I test my water to see how it is doing. I know this probably isn’t the best way to maintain an aquarium, but it’s how I do it.

40-Gallon Reef

The maintenance on this tank is a little more difficult than a nano reef as expected. I do 10-gallon water changes with Scripps water about every 10 days, and clean the skimmer, and glass and everything during that time. I have to top off the tank with RO water almost every day, which is a pain but has to be done.  Once again, I am a bad tester and let my corals and fish let me know how the water is doing. However, I have never lost a fish to poor water conditions (knock on wood) and have never really had issues with ammonia or nitrates/nitrites etc. In the near future I plan purchasing a reef test kit and I may try dosing some things, but as of now I do not dose anything.

 

 

FEEDING:

20-Gallon and 40-Gallon

I pretty much fed the same things for both aquariums; Frozen Brine and Mysis shrimp with a little Vita-chem, flakes and pellets every once in a while. My feeding schedule is never consistent as my work schedule and everything is always changing, but I usually feed about 5 days a week. Also, I add some Reef Chili in every other day for the corals. All my fish eat a ton and are all pretty fat.

INHABITANTS:

20-Gallon Reef

Fish:

  • 1 Occellaris Clownfish
  • 1 Black and White Misbar Occellaris Clownfish
  • 1 Yellow Watchman Goby/Pistol Shrimp Combo

Inverts:

  • 1 Cleaner Shrimp
  • 1 Peppermint Shrimp
  • 1 Sand Sifting Starfish
  • 1 Maxima Clam
  • Multiple Snails and Crabs

Corals: Look at 40-gallon

  • Cabbage Leather
  • Zoas
  • Palys
  • Frogspawn
  • Torch
  • Wellso Brain
  • Green Gonipora
  • Blastomusas
  • GSP
  • Xenia
  • Birdsnest
  • Kenya Tree

40-Gallon Reef

Fish:

  • 1 Occellaris Clownfish
  • 1 Black and White Misbar Occellaris Clownfish
  • 1 Yellow Watchman Goby/Pistol Shrimp Combo
  • 2 Bangaii Cardinal fish

Inverts:

  • 1 Cleaner Shrimp
  • 1 Peppermint Shrimp
  • 1 Sand Sifting Starfish
  • 1 Maxima Clam
  • Multiple Snails and Crabs

Corals:

  • Cabbage Leather
  • Over 14 different kinds of Zoas and Palys
  • Frogspawn
  • Torch
  • Hammer
  • Wellso Brain
  • Blastomusas
  • GSP
  • Xenia
  • Birdsnest
  • Kenya Tree
  • Purple Gorgonian
  • Multiple Mushrooms
  • Favias
  • Orange Montipora

CONCLUSIONS:

Probably the most important thing that I have learned is that we all need help and we can always learn new things. I have received help from so many people on this forum and from so many local reefers and I am so thankful. Without the help from you guys, I wouldn’t be writing this. Also, I want to talk about how helpful it is to have a strong local reefing community. Anytime I need used equipment, or I want some new coral but can’t afford LFS prices, I go on my local reef forum and look to see what people are selling. It is such a great way to meet new reefers, and trade corals etc. I have met so many awesome people from this, and received so much help I can’t even explain. I highly suggest looking for a local reefing community or even starting one, because it has been such a big help on my journey into aquariums. Thank you again everyone for all your help, and I hope you enjoyed this article!

Filed under TOTM.