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Old 09-16-2013, 10:42 PM   #1
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Convert 20g FW planted to SW reef

Hello all!

I originally came to aquarium advice to get help in putting together a 20g planted tank. Thanks to all the advice I received it came out beautifully, with plants and fish all flourishing. I had to dismantle it however, due to complaints from the person I was living with and my moving out.

Since the move, I have become enamored with marine livestock, especially coral. I am in the process of acquiring a 55g from Craigslist, but I figured since the 20g is empty, I could create a nano reef with it until I get the 55.

The 20 is up and running without fish because I originally planned on setting up another freshwater planted. It currently has a substrate of Caribsea floramax mixed with Caribsea naturals sand, and a few plants and bulbs. I also have a marineland penguin 200 running with a floramax t8 bulb on a 10 hour timer.

I was wondering if any of these things would work for a nano reef. I am still doing my research on nano reefs before I just jump into it, but I didn't see much info on converting for planted freshwater to reef. I know there's still a lot I need to acquire, but if I can use the some of the equipment I already have that would be great.

I was also thinking of stocking with a clean up crew of snails, maybe a few hermits, 2 ocellaris clowns and three blue damsels. Aqadvisor.com says this is ok for my tank but I want to be sure and I am asking the experts.

Sorry for the long post, but any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks very much in advance.

20g - 2 Platies/ Red Wag and Red Tiger
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Old 09-17-2013, 07:16 PM   #2
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Sadly, there isn't a lot you can use to transfer over to a reef.

The lighting is the biggest issue if you are wanting a reef tank. Your t8 lighting isn't nearly powerful enough for corals. I had 2 t5ho bulbs over my 20g high reef for about 4 months and it was enough to grow mushrooms and zoanthids. I recently upgraded to a 120w LED fixture and couldn't be happier.

The substrate you have will probably work, but I would suggest that you upgrade to an aragonite sand. The planted substrates are made to trap as much nutrients in it as possible and that's not something that's desirable in a salt water tank as it will cause nutrient and algae issues.

Your filter will work but it might be a good idea to add an extra powerhead in the tank just to create some more dynamic flow. I would suggest the hydor koralia powerheads personally. They are very good and also very affordable.

As for stocking a 20g tank, I wouldn't do more than 3 fish for a tank. You could probably safely increase that number to 4 if you added a refugium to the tank. I would stay away from the damsels as they are very aggressive fish and impossible to catch once they are in the tank. Have you looked at gobys or a firefish?

Have you thought about a refugium?
"The simplest explanation for some phenomenon is more likely to be accurate than more complicated explanations." -Occam's razor
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20 gallon, plant, planted, reef, sw reef

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