starting a 20 gallon fowlr tank PLEASE HELP

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Aquarium Advice Apprentice
Jul 24, 2011
Hello!! For the past 5 months or so I've been housing a Green Spotted Puffer in a 20 gallon tank with a SG of around 1.018. Well, I feel like he needs an upgrade, even though he's still only about 2 and a half inches long. I'm gunna be going with a 40 gallon breeder tank most likely for him but I want to turn his old 20 gallon tank into a FOWLR nano tank=] (I've never had a saltwater aquarium before and I UNDERSTAND THAT THE BIGGER TANK YOU HAVE THE EASIER THEY ARE TO MAINTAIN...I just sadly don't have the money for a 55g tank after all the expenses)

Okay so first thing's first, I'm gunna get the tank. Then I plan on getting about 20lbs of Caribsea Ocean Direct Live Sand....Caribsea Ocean Direct Live Sand 40 LB Original Grade - CAR00940 - (20lbs tho, not 40)

Then I'm going to get about 12 pounds of base rock and 8 pounds of live UNcured rock.

Then I'm going to get a 425 gph Hydor Koralia powerhead....Hydor Koralia Evolution 425 gph powerhead Hydor Koralia Evolution 425 gph pump Hydor Koralia Evolution 425 gph power head

Then I might get some more decor for the tank and basically I think I'll be ready to go. I don't want a protein skimmer because I honestly don't have the money for one. I'd rather do water changes more often than purchase a protein skimmer. I also feel like I'll be okay since it's only gunna be a 20 gallon tank.

So I'm gunna fill my tank up about 4 inches or so with dechlorinated (with SeaChem prime) tap water with a SG of 1.021 and add the live sand. SHOULD I USE DI WATER FROM WALMART OR WILL THE DECHLORINATED TAP BE OKAY??

Then I'm gunna wait till it settles a bit and fill the rest of the tank up most of the way with more water with a SG of 1.021 as well.

Then I'm gunna add my baserock and put the UNcured live rock on top of it.

I'm also gunna maybe add the decor (caves, fake corals, ect.)

I'll then add my powerhead. I figure one will be enough because, again, it's only a 20 gallon tank and I'm on a really tight budget.

I'll also turn on my 100 watt heater and set it to around 79 degrees.

Then I wait.....

If I'm not mistaken the dead matter in the live rock will be released into the water, causing an ammonia spike.

The bacteria in the tank will then build up within the live rock and live sand in order to turn the ammonia into nitrites which will result in my ammonia levels dropping down to zero and my nitrite levels spiking.

The bacteria will then build up even more, turning the nitrites into nitrates and at this point, once my ammonia levels and nitrite levels are reading zero, the live rock, live sand, and base rock will all be seeded with the bacteria that can sucessfully carry out the nitrogen cycle in my tank. At this point I can slowly begin to add fish.

I assume I'll only have a clownfish or two, a yellowtail damsel or two, maybe one other fish, some cleaner shrimp, a chocolate chip starfish, and some hermit crabs.

I'll do 10% water changes weekly and monitor the water parameters as well.

Now, with all that being said, do I know what I'm doing? Am I going to have any unexpected suprises? PLEASE inform me on anything I didn't cover in this post, but don't be too mean because I'm a beginner and I'm learning and that's why I'm here=] Thanks.
You will need to do a water change to get rid of the nitrates...should be as close to zero as possible before adding fish. But, you have the basic idea.
hopefully i can touch on most of this:) you dont absolutely have to go with live sand.. i noticed you said youre on an extremely tight budget...try taking a look at pool filter sand or play sand. running 1 powerhead will be perfect. de-chlor tap water could work (i use it in my 125) but RO/DI water is preferred. you could always put your sand in the tank first, then lay a shallow dish in the tank and pour the water onto the dish. (make sure you rinse the sand with water before putting into the tank.) go a lil higher with temp if possible. 82-84. and if you can get ahold of 100% pure ammonia, you could use that to dose your tank to help speed u[ the cycle a lil
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