Being that I'm not entirely sure what is normal progression here I have kind of let things take their course for a while and see what happens.
After a couple of days with water and rocks the diatoms moved in in a big way! I had added 8 dwarf blue legged hermits and a dozen margarita snails to get working on cleaning the place up. I'm sure this tank can support a lot more inverts but in keeping with my take it slow plan we start small. As the diatoms cleared up I'm starting to see some signs of coralline algae as well as some less desirable algae too.
The yellowish hue in this shot is from the lamp I'm using which I don't like and plan on replacing, the diatoms, and my cheap little camera. You get the idea though about the diatoms moving in.
The water quality seems to be improving all the time. For a couple of weeks now I'm seeing 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and after starting with 15-20ppm of nitrate it seems to be falling to an almost undetectable level which is a surprise on such a new tank. Who am I to complain though right?
The next step in this project is the sump. After reading almost every word of melevsreef.com I felt the need to work in acrylics.
The sump was designed to fit the stand I made more than to fit the tank. As it turns out the sump will be running with about 36 gallons of water with plenty of head space to take the runoff from the main tank when the power is off.
Building the sump was fun and a little time consuming. Marc has done such a great job in explaining how he does what he does so that just about anybody can follow along. I doubt I would have even thought about trying this without his site.
From an economic stand point though, I'm not quite sure I would recommend it for the one time sump builder. There is a fair amount of support equipment needed and if you do not have it already, it could be quite costly.
To save you the boring details here, you can take a look at Marc's site
for a far better description than I could provide.
Photos of my sump going together:
No Leaks!!! (Happy Dance!)
The sump will sit for a few days with water in it while I work on the auto top off system. I'll provide more documentation of that process and the implementation of the sump in days to come.
Thanks for reading.