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Old 07-02-2011, 10:26 PM   #1
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Starting 10g Nano Slowly: Need Advice

So, I have been wanting to go salt for a long time. I have read article after article, books, and have read tons of threads . But one can never get enough good advice. I intend on doing a fishless cycle and am prepared for the cycle to take months to complete. I am a graduate student with very little money but alot of patience and really want to do this right. So here goes....

The planned setup for my dream Nanoreef

10 gallon
20 gal HOB
heater
1 powerhead (size)
Crushed coral substrate or sand (15lbs) (opinions?)
7 lbs base rock
5 lbs live rock
lighting to come later

I have some questions for nanoreef/reef experts.

1) With respect to substrate, what would be the pros and cons of using crushed coral versus sand?
I have decided against live sand as from what I have read and from what I can assert based on the sand sitting on the shelves of my LFS for months on end...it would be mostly dead anyways. I am considering crushed coral as a potential source of calcium, but am unsure if that is necessary in a nano setup.

2) What size and number of powerhead(s) is sufficient for a 10g nano? I plan on using natural filtration in the live rock, and hoped to be able to use the 20g HOB as extra circulation on one end of the tank and one powerhead on the other.

3) Protein skimmer or no?
I don't really have much money and have read several sources that have differing opinions on the need for a protein skimmer for a nano setup. The major arguement against a skimmer is that it can take away nutrients. I really wouldn't be able to afford anything expensive right away, so advice/opinions welcome here...

4) What should go in first for the cycling...baserock+live rock, sand/coral, both,...I have read so many different opinions O.o???

5) Water: Mineral supplements???
As a graduate student I work in a lab with a state of the art Milli Q water station. Milli Q is a step up from RO/DI. This will save me lots of money, but I wonder if I might need to supplement the MilliQ water with any nutrients?

6) Lighting: Cost versus requirements with minimal heat. Power compact versus LED?
I am currently debating between a power compact lighting setup that would give me around 6wpg, but have also been reading up on newer LED lighting systems that provide an intense lighting source without the worry of extra heat.

My apartment can be as warm as 82F in the summer. The nano would be kept in a cool area in an airconditioned room, but I worry about the heat of high intensity lighting system heating the 10g too much. Hoping that someone with a 10g reef setup can suggest an affordable lighting setup that won't give off too much heat. My friend offered me a his metal halide system that would fit my 10g, but I have read that they produce too much heat to be a good choice for a nanoreef.

7) Will 6 wpg be enough to grow healthy happy mushrooms, zoos, polyps and corals?
So far I plan to have no fish other than 1-2 gobies (maybe). I don't want to get a useless lighting setup as I am primarily interested in keeping coral not fish.

8) Water changes after cycle is complete. Are 25% water change weekly a healthy habit or should I plan to do more for a 10g reef? Will the amount of water changes I need to do change by adding 1-2 gobies?


Thanks in advance for the advice and suggestions. I am excited to get started
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Old 07-02-2011, 11:40 PM   #2
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I have no clue about any of these things but I'm thinking about doing a tank like this so I'm going to watch this and hopefully learn some things as well I do know one little thing- you don't really need the skimmer in a tank that small, they're good to have but not needed so it could be money in your pocket!
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Old 07-03-2011, 12:09 AM   #3
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1.) There are really no benefits to CC (crushed coral) that I can see. CC trap detritus cause major problems down the road with nitrates. Sand on the other hand, doesn't do this. Sand allows certain fish to burrow and slide along the bottom without causing injury. Make sure your grain size of sand, should you choose to use it as a substrate, is not too small (smaller than a grain of sugar), or you will have issues with it being tossed around by your filter/powerhead. CC only offers the calcium buffer at a lower pH that you will not see in SW (under 7.5 IIRC).

2.) I would recommend two powerheads, but you do have your filter, so you should be able to get by with just one. Try to aim for a 20x-30x turnover rate per hour (GPH ratings). With powerheads, a good starting point is aiming one at the other towards the upper, front-center glass. This provides excellent oxygen exchange as well as a nice, chaotic flow just like you would find near a reef.

3.) On a tank that small, your simple 10%-20% weekly water changes will accomplish the same thing that a skimmer would. To put it simply, just keep up the water changes and spend the money elsewhere.

4.) Put you base rock in first right on top of the bottom glass, then pile the live rock on top of the base, or either way, it really doesn't matter, I just liked having the nicer live stuff on top of the base. Then, add your substrate to cover the rest of the visible bottom glass. Putting the rock directly on top of the glass helps avoid slippage should something decide to burrow under the rock.

5.) Don't supplement anything. Everything you need buffered, your salt mix will do for you, and anything that needs replenished will be done so by your water change. Later on, you may find the need to supplement calcium. Rule of thumb is to not supplement anything you can't test for.

6.) PC wouldn't be a bad choice in a 10g as they are rather shallow tanks. I wouldn't worry about the heat. I kept my tank around 81 degrees intentionally. A 70w halide fixture isn't bad either, 150w, depending on the placement will bake your livestock.

7.)WPG is a horridly out-dated rule. Factors such as PAR, intensity, and depth penetration are far more important. A good PC fixture should maintain those corals you listed without a problem, even the majority of LPS corals would do fine. Below is a good link on lighting that will clear some things up.

Aquarium Lighting; Kelvin, Nanometers, PAR, Bulb, Watt, MH, LED, Light Basics.

8.) That would be a fine amount of water to change weekly. I don't recommend getting two gobies for that small of a tank, maybe a yellow watchman goby or a clown goby and an ocellaris clownfish.

If you have any questions, please ask. By the way, welcome back, I haven't seen you on in a while.
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Old 07-03-2011, 12:56 AM   #4
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Thanks Thominil for the welcome back and for all the great info. I have been checking in sporadically and enjoying reading threads. I got really busy with defending my thesis, but have more free time to be active in the forums again. I still have my planted tanks up. They are gorgeous and so much fun. But I am super excited to go salty!

On the topic of lighting...I understand lighting very well for planted tanks as that is what I have had the most experience. I used wpg to be simple as I am still deliberating the best source for such a small setup. My immediate concern was the heat. In terms of nano setups, on the topic of PAR and PUR...if I get a 2HO fixture, should I get one 50/50 bulb and one straight actinic for what I would like to do or would 2 sunlight and two actinic be best?
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Old 07-03-2011, 01:16 AM   #5
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A good common starting point for bulbs is to do half straight actinic and half straight 10K. When it comes time to get new bulbs, you can easily make your choices from there. You are going to have to experiment with bulb combinations to see what gives you the best amount of growth.
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Old 07-03-2011, 01:52 AM   #6
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In my experience, a PC bulb doesn't heat the water much at all. It gets hot, but doesn't put out enough heat to effect your temperature too much. And even if it did it wouldn't be more than 1-2 degrees which you can just turn your heater down if it's too hot for your liking.

25% weekly water change is great

I've had crushed coral in freshwater setups, and gravel in saltwater - both are messy. Definitely go with the sand.. unless you just have your heart set on CC.. after all it is your tank
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Old 07-03-2011, 03:09 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scottayy View Post
In my experience, a PC bulb doesn't heat the water much at all. It gets hot, but doesn't put out enough heat to effect your temperature too much. And even if it did it wouldn't be more than 1-2 degrees which you can just turn your heater down if it's too hot for your liking.

25% weekly water change is great

I've had crushed coral in freshwater setups, and gravel in saltwater - both are messy. Definitely go with the sand.. unless you just have your heart set on CC.. after all it is your tank
Thanks for the tips . I am definitely going to go with sand, I spent some time in a lfs today but wasn't sure which to select. I need to choose from argonite sand, "live" sand, or dry sand. The dry sand seems a bit too small in grain, but the "live" sand, which is probably dead has larger grains but is 3 times more expensive. I am not sure if it would be worth ordering sand online, or if there is another way to get good clean sand of the right grain size. My lfs only carries one type of sand for marine aquariums. Boo :/
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Old 07-03-2011, 12:18 PM   #8
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Go with dry aragonite. Is there a PetSmart ot Petco in the area? They usually carry CaribSea dry aragonite.
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Old 07-04-2011, 11:47 AM   #9
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Go with dry aragonite. Is there a PetSmart ot Petco in the area? They usually carry CaribSea dry aragonite.

There are both, but I went yesterday and they are "restructuring things" and two locations for both were only carrying dry sand, live aragonite in natural and black, and finely crushed coral. I figured even though it was more expensive I would just buy the live aragonite and save myself running around to different stores who say they have it but don't. Grrrrr.
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Old 07-04-2011, 12:04 PM   #10
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I'm following bc I'm starting a 20 gallon long saltwater soon
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