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Old 04-09-2004, 06:48 PM   #1
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How to make a 3 Gallon Reef tank. One Day Set-up.

Just thought I would share my formula for a quick and easy mini reef tank. Many people, who want a salt-water tank for the first time, keep putting it of because of the expense, and the long set-up time. Well I have found a way that you can have a complete salt-water tank in one day. Without the extensive weeks of waiting for your tank to cycle, or rocks to mature, or ammonia spike, or nitrate, or nitrite, etc. Yes one day!!!
I have had my 3 gal. Tank up and running for 1year with absolutely on problems what so ever, and every thing living, and no substantial losses. I know some of the “know-it-alls” going to poke wholes in my formula, but it works. And it’s a way for people to get over their fears of the expense, and diligent up-keep of a salt-water tank.
My formula uses the Eclipse System 3 tank because it provides adequate light, carbon filtration, and a bio-wheel (wet and dry filtration). In fact all of the Eclipse tanks are very self sufficient, containing all that you need in one complete package. Simply put, my formula attempts to transfer a complete tank, from the pet store, to your house. It’s the way a pet store would set up a display tank, why can’t it work for you.
Set-up Items:
1 Stick-on temperature strip
1 Eclipse System 3 tank = $45
1 Submersible Heater (with temp. dial) = $20
1 Long Soft Tooth brush = $3
1 Hydrometer = $10
1 4 gal water jug = $8
1 bucket w/lid = $3 (home depot)
1 Test Kit = $15 (cheap test strip kind: ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate)
1 Net = $1.99
1 Timer = $4
1 Ammo Lock (tap water conditioner) $1.99 (or Aqua safe)
1 Pack of Docit color clear organizer sheets (staples, or office depot)= $3
· If you are using this set up for a larger tank you will not need the Docit sheets. Also if you have small children at home, beware of the Test kits that use liquid, most of them use toxic chemicals, and are harmful if swallowed.
· If your tank is larger than 3 gallons buy a few buckets with the lids for the live rock.
Vitamins:
1 All In One (salt water vitamins)
1 Medicine Dropper
1 Iodine (for salt water)
Live Stuff:
1 Small Sea Urchin (pencil kind)
1 Yellow Tail Damsel = $2.50
2 Hermit Crabs = $6
2 Small Snails (not turbo) = $6
3 Pounds of Live rock = $15
2 pounds of live sand = $6
4 gal. of salt water = $2.00
· If your tank is larger than 3 gallons, you need at least 1 pound of live rock per gallon. Ex: 10 gal. = 10 pounds.
· Also if you tank is larger than 15 gallons you will need to buy the pre packaged live sand = $29.

Food:
1 Marine Flake Food: $5 1 Shrimp Pellet (sinking kind) = $4

Getting Started:
First, take the tank out of the box, and open the florescent light lid, you will need a screwdriver. The stock bulb is ok, but it does not have a good color spectrum. Unfortunately there is no other manufacturer that makes a color bulb for the 3-gallon Eclipse. Take the purple Docit clear sheet and cut it to the size of the shield, and place it in side. Now your light will have a blue tint, which will enhance the color of your tank. Plug the light cord into your timer, set it for a 8 to 10 hour on period.
Second, take your bucket, water jug, and credit card to your local salt-water pet store. This one-day setup only works if you live or work near a small friendly pet store. Purchase 3 gal. of saltwater, and have it put in the jug. Get 2 gal. of water, and put it in the bucket. Get the 3 pounds live rock, but not the cheap live rock that is sitting in the live rock bin, that stuff requires cycling, and is already decaying in some parts, even if its smells like a fresh ocean breeze, its got something dead on it. The live rock you need is in the other bin. Usually cost $2 more a pound but has plenty of growth on it, red, purple, and green algae. The rock must be covered with the stuff. If your pet store does not have good live rock in a bin, check the tanks where the fish are located, they are usually covered in good algae. With a little negotiating you can get about 3 pounds of that live rock for a few bucks more. Put the live rock in the bucket with the water, and put the lid on it. When people usually buy live rock, the store usually raps it in plastic, and puts it in a bag. Once they take it out of the water, it’s dying every second until you put it in the tank at home. Then you need to cycle it and wait, and wait.
Third, buy the rest of the live critters (don’t worry you will be able to buy the more colorful stuff soon enough). Now buy the vitamins. Now that you have everything you need, put every thing in the car, and get home as quick as you can.
Fourth, stick the temp strip on the side of the tank, fill the tank half way with water, add the live sand, and start placing the live rock in the tank. Be sure to stack the rock, so there are wholes for the fish to swim through. Don’t stack the rock against the back wall. It’s ok if a few pieces touch the back wall a little, just not all of them. Place your heater in the tank against the back wall, but not touching any of the rock nor the sand. Set it to 78 to 79 degrees (the heater should be under water). Pug in your filter. Now place you critters (which should be in plastic bags w/ water) in the tank. The water level should be some where near the top. If all of the critters don’t fit, use your net a place them in a bag with each other. Keep them in the bags for 1 hour.
Final, take the critters and put them in the tank. Pour in water until it reaches the top. Turn on your tanks light. By now your tank should be at the right temperature, your filter should be humming along, and your tank finally looks like a real fish tank. Kudos. Now add the required amount of All In One, and Iodine. Add a few drops of Ammo Lock, is most important. Since your tank is new, it will produce allot more ammonia than normal, and Ammo Lock turns ammonia into its non-toxic form. Keep a close eye on your tank, whenever your fish looks stressed, or the other animals are behaving oddly, add one drop of Ammo Lock (no more than one drop every few days for the fist 2 weeks. After the first week everything should be fine.

Maintenance:
Every Day; you should feed your fish twice (only as many flakes he will eat in a 1 minute).
Every Week; you should add the required amount of All-In-One, and the Iodine. After a few weeks your water level will look a little low, but remember the water evaporates, not the salt. So every week or so you also need to check your salinity level with the hydrometer ( 1.020 to 1.023). Low salinity is just fine (around 1.018), but if your salinity is a little high, add fresh water to the tank, but don’t forget to add the Ammo-lock to the water before you put it in the tank. Also drop a few shrimp pellets in the tank, for the crabs and urchin.
Every Month: you should change at least 10 percent of your water. Which means another trip to the pet store, to purchase some salt water. If your tanks water seems a little more cloudy than normal, change It more often, but no more often than every 3 weeks.
Other Animals:
Now that your tank is up and running for about a two weeks you can begin to add some more items. I would suggest a Bali starfish, and some mushrooms. Bali starfish are bright red, and never grow bigger than a dollar coin. I would also suggest some mushrooms; they come in a variety of colors, and expand and contract periodically throughout the day. After you tank has been up and running for about 5-6 months you can add an anemone or two. I prefer long tips, bubble tips, and carpet anemones. In your Eclipse tank you can put in any invertebrate, that doesn’t have a high light requirement. Sorry no corals: The Eclipse light source is too week to support corals.
With anemones and mushrooms it is important to be patient. They tend to move around allot, until they find a comfortable spot. Also it is important to be patient with live rock, many animals, pods, star fish, and other sea creatures live in the tiny wholes, or have laid eggs in the wholes, so you never know what will develop over time. If you pack your tank as full as possible, a year later it may look cluttered due to growth. Remember when picking out new animals ask about its full grown size, and what it eats, or will eat, when its hungry. The popular term is “reef safe. ” If the animal isn’t “reef safe,” it can’t go in a reef tank.

Personal rules:
1. 1 fish per 6 gal
2. Less is better than more
3. Don’t buy it, because you may grow it.
4. Follow the instructions on the bottle.

Well I think I covered everything. In this article I purposely left out some of the technical information because, if you are really interested, there is plenty of further information on the Internet. If you have any problems, or questions, consult your local pet store.
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Old 04-09-2004, 07:56 PM   #2
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how many watt light do you have on your tank at home that you tryed this on? and what anemone do you have in the tank?
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Old 04-09-2004, 08:31 PM   #3
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IMO Most of this information is either misleading or wrong.
Quote:
Every Week; you should add the required amount of All-In-One, and the Iodine.
Adding anything, especially iodine in a 3 gal tank without testing prior to could be lethal.

Quote:
After you tank has been up and running for about 5-6 months you can add an anemone or two. I prefer long tips, bubble tips, and carpet anemones. In your Eclipse tank you can put in any invertebrate, that doesn’t have a high light requirement. Sorry no corals: The Eclipse light source is too week to support corals.
Anemones, bubble tips in particular, are highly photosynthetic and require much more lighting than you get with the stock eclipse lighting. I could go on but it would take up too much space...add inverts before cycling, ammo-lock?...vitamins...SG of 1.018 is okay? In a 3 gal tank you better be checking SG daily. This method might work for some people but I would recommend reading some more opinions and references before setting up a tank.
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Old 04-09-2004, 08:36 PM   #4
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Wow, not sure what to say....
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Old 04-09-2004, 08:46 PM   #5
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jackdp you took the words right out of my mouth. i was not going to say much but i know there are many thing with this lay out that have some problems in it. but i really was not going to say much. just let the others do the speaking. if it worked for him he is lucky but just to let any one to know that is thinking about might trying this there are better ways of doing this "over night reef" good things just take time.
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Old 04-09-2004, 09:14 PM   #6
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I am not trying to bash a post either but I dont dare adding Iodine to a 55g tank let alone a 3gal tank.. That is just asking for trouble..
Quote:
In a 3 gal tank you better be checking SG daily
Ohh yes definetly.. and doing weekly water changes of about 1/2gal or so.. Levels can swing very quickly in a tank that size.. Thats why they say nanos are harder to keep than the bigger tanks..

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Old 04-09-2004, 10:39 PM   #7
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While I agree with the sentiments above, let's keep this peaceful, state you opinion without personal attacks and without emotion and this thread will stay open.
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Old 04-09-2004, 10:55 PM   #8
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Lets keep one thing in mind..What may one for one person, may not work for others.. IME I've noticed that there's alot of trial an error in this hobby as well as some of us getting lucky with quite a few of the things we try. I just hope any new comers that read this article also read other aticles and take other opinions as well. This way they can pick through and decide what may actually work for them and be in the best interest of there SW endevor..
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Old 04-11-2004, 11:18 PM   #9
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As a newbie to the saltwater world I find the this info. very conflicting to the information I have found on setting up and maintaining a saltwater aquarium, not to mention a reef system! I'm reading the Conscientious Marine Aquarist as recommened to me by a few here and the info. is great! Thanks all.
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Old 04-11-2004, 11:35 PM   #10
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I have to stick with the conventional ways. They are tried and true. Someday the technology may improve, but in the meantime.....
The Iodine scares me too.
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