Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Aquarium - Chapter I: Initial Set-Up and Newbie Mistakes

All right, I warned ya that there might be some Copy/Paste action going on ;-)

I'm actually posting the progress of my tank on one of the Reef Message Boards and, well, I'm too lazy to re-type it all. So here goes:

(Note: I'm also too lazy to try to figure out how to re-size the jpgs, so things might look weird!)
* * * * *
Okay, I'm gonna attempt to document the creation/progression of my Nano Tank here - complete with Newbie Mistakes and Panic Attacks! (Oh, and pictures, too!) :D

So grab yourself a cold one and enjoy.............

Chapter I: Initial set-up and Newbie Mistakes

I must've been a good girl last year because Santa brought me a BioCube14 for Christmas.

Here it is - fresh out of the box:

(Excuse the mess - it was the day after Christmas, after all!)

I got lucky in that we still had an old TV stand (albeit a dusty old TV stand) that ended up being the perfect size for the tank. Okay, maybe I'd like it to be about 3-4" taller - but it's an "okay" height for viewing when you're sitting on the sofas. I asked DH to cut a beefier backer-board for the stand and I spray painted all of the exposed particle-board with black semi-gloss spray paint (thinking that the likelihood of me dripping on it, and turning it to mush, was pretty high!). The beefing-up of the stand took about a week and, in the meantime, I started ordering more gee-gaws for the tank.

Off the top of my head I'd ordered a Refractometer (eBay); Media Rack and Fish-Saver (InTank); Chemi-Pure; underwater LED pond lights; Koralia Nano Pump; and probably some other stuff I can't remember right now!

I also went to the LPS and picked up a bag of Instant Ocean and Live Sand. Then off to the local water-store where I bought 10 gallons of R/O filtered water (BTW - that's exactly what the BC14 holds: 10 gallons!).


I then proceeded to make Newbie Mistake #1: The sand goes in the tank BEFORE the water ("D'oh!").


Now mind you, I had been reading numerous Reef-Tank Message Boards, and absorbing information like a sponge, but somehow I still managed to miss "The Basics!" Hint for other Newbies: Put the sand in first. Mix your water/salt in a separate container to the correct SG. Then put a small bowl on the sand; pour the water into the bowl and let it slowly overflow. That way you'll minimize the whole Sand-Storm Effect (or so I've read).

Of course, there really wasn't anything in the tank at this point - so the sand-storm shouldn't have mattered - and would have cleared up on it's own, I'm sure. EXCEPT: I'd already contacted a guy thru Craigslist who was selling appx 20# of live rock (from a 4-y/o established tank) for $2.00/lb. And I had already arranged to drive up and get it the very next day! Oooooops!

Soooo... What-to-do? What-to-do?!! (Newbie Panic Attack #1). Well, the BC had come with a filter pad/cartridge thingie - that looked pretty cheesy to me. LPS (that SELLS BioCubes) *doesn't* sell BioCube Filters (Hmph!). I'd already ditched the BioBalls (b/c I planned to run a refugium) so the center back chamber was clear. I ended up stuffing a bunch of filter-floss into a media bag and wedging it, crossways, into the center chamber thusly:


That didn't do a very good job of filtering out the clouds, unfortunately. So I pulled out some polyfiber filter "sheet" material (that I was using on my FW tank):


I cut a slice roughly the same size as the media bag and wedged it on top:


Better. But still not as good as I'd like (Yes, I know: "Patience!!!").

So I pulled out a 100 GPH power-head and stuck that on the side of the tank.


Left that running overnight and by morning, the tank looked like this:


Yaaayyyyy!!! Crisis Averted!

Okay, that about covers the tank set-up thru last weekend. Stay tuned for Chapter II: Live Rock

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