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I have a small 2.5g tank that I am going to turn into a nano-reef tank. I am compleatly new to the saltwater aquarium hobby, but I am very skilled in the freshwater aquarium hobby. I hear that soft corals are the easiest way to go if you are a beginner in saltwater tank keeping. Is this true? How many pounds of live rock will i need? Does someone recommend a particular filter? Do I need a protien skimmer? What type of light should I have? What are some other soft corals that are easy to care for such as zoanthids, mushrooms, etc. How many frags should i get for this small tank? What are the water parameters that I need to maintain for the corals to thrive? What salinity do I need to maintain? I dont plan on putting fish in it too... And finially, how do you affix corals to the live rock?



I am so confused. Please, please, please, I need your help.
 

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I am compleatly new to the saltwater aquarium hobby, but I am very skilled in the freshwater aquarium hobby.
Awsome, good to see you come over to the dark side! SW tanks aint all that difficult but they are on the unforgiving side. Start out with a well laid solid plan and you should find yourself quiet successful.

I hear that soft corals are the easiest way to go if you are a beginner in saltwater tank keeping.
This is very true and these types of corals are especially well suited to such a tank as the one you have planned. Your biggest challenge other that maintaining proper water parameters will be getting enough light of the correct spectrum on the tank. This shouldnt prove too challenging or expensive as the manufactures in the last couple of years have made great strides marking to the Nano and Pico reef communities.

There are a number of very suitable corals such as Palys, Zoanthids, various polyps and Mushrooms. For a tank such as the one your planning I think would be fabulous with a collection of Ricordia!


How many pounds of live rock will i need?
The amount of rock you need kinda depends on the density of said rock. The more porous the less weight wise that is required. Generally 1.25 to 1.5 lbs is the standard so to speak. However having such a small tank you might find it difficult to get that much rock in the tank and still have water left. I would try as best as I could to pick up a couple of pounds at least and if you have the room 3 to 3.25 would likely be prudent. If using some really dense rock such as aquacultured Gulf Rock or Tonga Branch then you might need as much as 2 lbs a gallon. This is part of your "biological filtration" in the tank so skimping here is not something you really want to do unless you have too. I would look for some really choice small live rock thats very porous and top shelf. In a tank this small shape and size will be more important than pounds per a gallon in my opinion. Others may differ though.


Does someone recommend a particular filter?
Admittedly I am a huge fan of the AquaClear series of filters for Nanos and Picos. Thats not to say that there arent others that are suitable, its just I find these to be very reliable, flexible and there are lots of support parts out there should one need parts. I have some thast are 7 years old and they are still pulling Yeoman duty like the hero that never ran. I personally would choose a AquaClear 20/100. Its capable fo flowing 100 gallons per an hour, however the flow can be dialed down a bit so as to not be over whelming if needed. This should be more than adequate filtration and water flow and you shouldnt require any additional power heads for water movement. I am personally using this filter on my 5.5 and a 10 gallon Nano.



Do I need a protien skimmer?
In a tank this small that would be a no. You are better served and money ahead by doing freaquent small water changes. Most of the smaller budget priced skimmers get mixed reviews at best and take up a lot of precious space in such a small tank. Water changes will work just as good.


What type of light should I have?
Glad you asked this question! You have a couple of options here. Something such as...

Compact Fluorescent Aquarium Lighting: Mini-Freshwater & Mini-Aqualights

would probably be the most economical and no frills choice. If you are a DIYer kinda person then prehaps going to Aquarium Lights Hellolights.com might be an option for you. I would try and shoot for 18 watts or more. This would cover everything except SPS corals and Clams. You need a 50/50 mix in day light and Actinic 03 in the 420 nanometer range. Use bulbs specifically designed for SW as FW spectrum bulbs wont work out well for you.


How many frags should i get for this small tank?
This is the great thing about corals as unlike fish there really aint much in the way of restrictions. You can basically fill it to capacity and have the "Garden Tank" look, such as Sally Jo's 55 at Geothermal Aquaculture Research Foundation . I would definitely suggest frags not coral colonies for a tank this small and just allow the small frags to grow and spread. When choosing corals keep in mind that some corals send out sweepers and will sting near by corals. These guys must have space or you will have issues. Other corals such as one of the various Leathers will exude growth inhibitors making if difficult for other corals to cohabitate, especially in confined tanks such as the one your planning. So be aware of the corals needs that you choose for this tank.

What are the water parameters that I need to maintain for the corals to thrive?
The more pristine the better in most cases.

PH 8.2-8.4
Alk 8-10
SG 1.020-1.026
Ammonia 0
Nitrites 0
Nitrates 0-10
Ca 380-450
*Phosphates 0
(If you can detect it...its too high)

Stability in water parameters is more critical to an extent than anything else. Dont worry too much about the trace elements as if your using a good salt mix and not some off the wall brand you should be just fine. There is a rule in this hobby of if you can test for it dont be adding it. In a small tank like yours there is a very fine line between whats okay and whats an overdose! Adding something such as Iodine will get you in a heap of trouble fast in a tank this small if your not testing for this with a very exacting and precise test kit. Watch for evaporation. In a tank this small loosing just a half pint of water can drastically change the SG in the tanks water. Top your tank off daily, more often if required.

how do you affix corals to the live rock?
The short answer is lay them in place on a rock and secure with a rubber band, glue of some other method. Many of the corals you will purchase will come on a reef plug of some sort or rock rubble. Just place it in your rock work and it will do the rest for you as it grows and spreads.

For some great info I would suggest you check out coral propagation at Geothermal Aquaculture Research Foundation . There is a gold mine of info here at this site that will keep you busy for weeks. These guys are old school reefers and dont use a lot of the high tech trick of the week stuff out there on the market. Just good solid basic husbandry skills. Its really hard to argue with thier success. I have been fortunate enough to have toured thier facility and there are no words in the English language or any other for that matter that can begin to describe the level of success they have achieved.

I am so confused. Please, please, please, I need your help.
Keep asking questions thats what we are here for. I wished I would have known about forums when I started, I wouldnt have to had to learn everything in the school of hard knocks. Just dont take our words for the last word. Research everything...EVERYTHING, and verify it for yourself. There are a lot of ways to have a jaw dropping tank in this hobby and very few sure fire ways to fail. What works for one may not work as well for you.

Good luck and happy reefing!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thankyou so much. I have a much more clearer view on reef-keeping than I did before. I didnt quite understand what sweepers are. What are they and what corals send out sweepers? Also, i can keep zoanthids, mushrooms, and ricordia. Are there any other types of soft corals out there that are compatable with these corals?
 

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i think corals send out sweepers to grab their food(not completely sure...but i think thats they have them for). there like these little ropes a coral sends out.

o and if u want to be successful in the hobby, u would get a MUCH bigger tank.
 
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i know, a bigger tank is much easier to care for. Like I said, I am very skilled in the freshwater aquarium hobby. I have a little 2.5g sitting around and I decided to get my feet wet into some coral keeping. Thankyou so much to both of you!
 

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Corals that are primarily LPS corals will send out sweepers which are thread like tenticles that sting and allow the coral to capture prey from the water flowing by them. Corals such as Plate corals, Tounge Corals, Hammer, Torch, Frog Spawn, Elegance corals and Bubble Corals just to name a few. Even Mushroom corals are capable of stinging although its so mild its hardly worthy of a mention. Some of the previously mentioned corals can divy out some pretty potent stings annilating anything they come in contact with in short order. I would recommend staying away from such corals as they can often send out sweepers 6-10 inches long. This would pretty much make your little tank a "species only" tank.

The game plan of Mushrooms, Zoanthids/Palys and Ricordia should present few if any problems. There are other corals that are doable such as Green Starburst Polyps, Yellow Polyps (no peperment shrimp though if you do...), Corkey Sea Finger Gorgonian(small), Purple Frilly Gorgonian(small), Xenia just to name a few. A Cany Cane might be doable too if given a couple of inches of space between the polyps and other corals. These can send out sweepers but are usually very very short and not much of a threat to things that arent right up next to it. There are a lot of options out there. Jump on line and look up some various corals and avoid ones that say things like agressive or semi agressive and you should be fairly safe and have few suprises.

An idea you might consider...is setting your tank up using some sand such as Tahitian Moon. This is a reef safe black volcanic sand. In a tank with colorful corals like Zoanthids and Ricordia and coralline covered live rock can make for a very stunning and high contrast looking tank that really makes the colors "pop". This might not be the look for you but it can make for some jaw dropping displays! this sand can show dirt and crude really bad so its not for a tank that will have fish or tanks that will be fed with food, so its best in tanks with photosynthetic corals only for the most part. Its too fine to vaccum the sand bed too as you will suck it out with the water and other crap your trying to remove. I have had a couple of coral only Nanos with this sand and its very nice. I find that blowing the tank down with a small powerhead or turkey baster does a good job of keeping the sand clean and blowing the cude build up into the water colounm(sp?) where the filter can readily remove it workls very well at keeping it jet black and clean. Just a thought to possibly ponder.
 

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They are all photosynthetic corals and if given proper lighting can get by fine without supplementel feeding. There are various preps on the market that can be added to the tank to feed them I dont really recommend it especially in the smaller tanks due to water quality issues it can quickly cause. Occasionally I will thaw a cube of baby brine in about a cup of water and add a table spoon of the mixture to the tank the day before a water change.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
So i dont have to feed them anything? Just give them good lighting?

One more thing, can someone give me a step-by-step on how to proceed into setting up my nano-reef tank? This is from getting the stuff I need to get, to knowing how to put corals onto live rock, to maintaining proper water quality and salinity. Also, can someone give me a step-by-step on how to properly frag a coral?

Thanks. :)
 

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Geothermal Aquaculture Research Foundation for both. Their Bullet Proof Reef set up with a slightly shallower sand bed minus the plenum is a pretty good set up How To routine. They have several videos I believe on the site that show how to frag, if not they definitely have pictorials and written instructions. Their DVD on fragging that they usually send out with every order is excellent!!!
 

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thats why i stick to fw
 

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Your live rock and live sand will survive the cycling process suprisingly well. Its of no concern trust me on this one. I realize that goes against just about everything you have been reading or have herd. If your live rock has been out of water for much of anytime at all you will likely have some die off, even if your getting your rock from the LFS. So the water params would likely see a noticable spike anyways. If your ordering it on line and having it fedexed it will definitely have signifacant die off and will need to be cured. When setting up a new tank with rock like this I normally cure it in the tank when I initially set it up. Again doing this will have no effect on the sand or the live rock. In fact you could probably add a snail or two and a hermit or two after the first several days when the ammonia starts to fall and be okay. I often times will do this to cut down on algae growth and to consume some of the crude and die off in the tank. I will usually run the actinics as well during this time to encourage any coralline algae spores to start growing, you just wont likely notice it unless your using a magnafying glass to look closely at the rock. But usually by the time the rock is cured and the cycle is done you may start to see some coralline algae growth on the undersides of the rock where its not buried in the sand. This growth will be minimal due to the crappy water during the cycling period, but I try to do anything I can to get it growing so I can get the pertty purple stuff growing ASAP.

Coralline Algae will grow its best and fastest under moderate lighting heavy with actinics. You will also see a wider variety of coralline algae colors as well if the rock contians any pinks, reds, orange or yellows. This usually goes to some shade of purple only as you move to intense lighting as the others are more of a deep water varieties. Dont waste your money on purple up. It does nothing that you cant due with good reef keeping basics, other than get some more money outta your wallet. Just depend more on brisk water flow, Low Ammonia, Nitrites, Nitrates, Phosphates and a Alk level of 8-9 and PH at a rock steady 8.2-8.4. If you must you can add a sparing amount of Calcium (enough to get the calcium at about 430-480) and a trace element supplement. By doing this you should have some fairly well covered live rock with coralline algae in a few months.

Now after the initial cycle is over, DO NOT ALLOW SUCH HIGH SWINGS AGAIN !!! This is even more so important if there are any corals or fish present. Do not distrub the sand bed any more than you have too as well as this could cause some nasty things to happen with your water quality Since you have a very small tank...I would advise as a precaution to keep a gallon of fresh SW and FW on hand in seperate containers to be used for emergency water changes if something should happen and your water quality take a nose dive. This will give you a good bit of water on hand to use to dilute the tank water down and minimize any sudden drastic changes. This can save you from a dreaded "tank crash" and allow you to quickly regain control of your tanks water quality in an emergency. It should never be needed but sometimes "it" happens and its better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. They say its the little things that kill and this is true, but its also the little things that you can do that can save you from catastrophe as well.

Once your tank of live rock and sand has cycled, and the Nitrates are no longer rising you will want to do a couple of water changes over a couple of weeks and monitor your water. Change about 1 gallon each week for two weeks. If the nitrates are no longer going up the cycle is complete. Once the cycle is complete monitor the water and do weekly water changes until you have 0 Ammonia, 0 Nitrates and less than 10 Nitrates and holding steady. If your ALK is holding steady at 8-9, PH at 8.2-8.4, you can now add a small coral frag about once every two weeks until you have things like you want them or run out of space. Think "Slow and Steady as she goes". Nothing good happens in a reef tank fast.
 

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yes everyday

hahahaha everyone does it different personally i do check mine everyday i know of some that do it once a week on a cycling tank i am a lil less stringent and after i stock it slowly i test daily in the mornin preferably thats just my 2 cents

and also can we make a section of the forum to close very informative threads and and move them there for reading only cause this one imho is that very informative

just mi other 2 centws bwahahahhaha
 
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