Just can’t kick the habit.

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Eileash

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So, I’m at it again. I quit around this time last year after coming home from vacation to find my heater broken and all of my fish dead. Feeling heartbroken and frustrated, I sold and gave away what was left. Fast forward to about a month ago, and I found myself researching again. I already have 3 other tanks for freshwater (1 blackwater planted, 1 bichir tank, and 1 planted grow out for bichirs). I love creating a system that’s about as close to “complete” and self regulating as possible. It’s why I prefer live plants. They act as a great buffer to swings in water quality, hiding places for fry, and a food source for days where I might skip a feeding. With that in mind, I started researching a lot in the macros for saltwater. Last time I tried saltwater, I sort of threw together pieces I could find, neglecting a lot of research for the sake of learning through experience. I’m sure everyone in this hobby can think of their first tank (and the poor fish) that endured our first trials. But you learn a lot from those first tanks. I learned a lot from my first saltwater tank. For instance, NEVER underestimate the value of an ATO system. Petco cheap heaters are an awful investment and should only be used in absolute emergencies. Plants have value in saltwater too. Journaling is your friend and will help you understand what’s going on in your tank later down the road.

About two weeks ago, I found a great deal on a used tank, a 40 gallon hexagon with stand and some spare parts. I have ALWAYS wanted a hexagon tank for nestalgia reasons. When trying to imagine what I could possibly throw in it, to me, the most beautiful option was saltwater. My heart will always favor freshwater, but I just can’t imagine fresh being well showcased in a hexagon. Anyway... so here’s my current setup:

- 40 gallon hex
- red devil 120 skimmer
- barracuda rodi system
- aqua clear 70 mod with chaeto and chemipure blue and Fluval Nano light
- 165w Chinese box light (might be the first thing I upgrade)
- hydor ato with aqua lifter
- 2 koralia 425 with wave maker
-30+ lbs of dry rock
- 10+ lbs of live rock
- 25lbs live sand
- dragons breathe, lettuce, and calurpa macros in display
- and 1 mp10 with the control

Grocery list of items to be purchased before upgrades:
Battery backup
Guards for pumps
Doser
Possibly a sump, but not really confident in how to proceed. I had way too many accidents with a hang on over flow and not really confident in drilling the tank.

So far, I’ve noticed a big difference this go around compared to my first try. The cycle is much more “on time” as far as diatom bloom and test kit numbers. I threw in a couple bottles of biospira, and currently my numbers are ph 8.2, Am 0, Ni 0, Na 5, and phos 0. Couple days ago I threw in 5 blue legs and a plain clown. Depending on my numbers, I’ll throw in 5 astrea and 5 other snails. Maybe a week after that another clown. We’ll see though. Right now, my focus is research and keeping the pace slow and steady.

Let me know what you guys think. All suggestions are welcome. I’m trying to be patient and concentrate on equipment to give myself and the tank the best shot going forward.
 
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clsanchez77

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Welcome back to the hobby.

If you were looking for support to help you quit, you came to the wrong place :D

I too once quit "for good" out of frustration. I was just married, we just had a baby and Hurricane Gustav hit, 10 days of no power in an apartment where I could not do anything about it. I looked back at how much money I spent and threw in the towel. Here I am 10 years, 4 kids, a career and just a great life later...and I still have this hole lol. Once this **** gets in your blood...

So sincerely, welcome back.

And due to my experience, battery backups on the power heads was an absolute must! So I went vortechs and they have two batteries each!

Overall, I am not a fan of the Chinese Black Box LED's. Yes, they will work. But they just don't compare to the puck style LEDs. Start out with them and you will be fine. Budget some side money for a lighting upgrade later and you will not be disappointed.

On the heaters, I use the old fashion eheim glass heaters and I run them on an Apex. This gives me two forms of backup for control, and I get notification if I go outside that window. I may upgrade to titaniums one day, but I just find in New Orleans (or 4 miles west of it) they run so little.

A hex tank will be a nice showcase, not one generally seen outside cheap community freshwater fish, or perhaps a sea horse tank. A lot of potential in this one I see!

Are you going to do any corals? If your answer is no, I can make some recommendations to help change your mind :D In a hex tank, you could showcase a great leather in the center and the clown may even host it. I also have some teal calaustrea that has quadrupled in head count is about 18 months. I am contemplating selling it when I re-rock the tank. It is a great coral, but I want to reduce my diversity and showcase fewer but larger premium pieces.

On a hex tank, I don't think there is any reliable way to work in a sump. The overflow is issue one...finding a reasonable sized sump that would actually fit under it is problem number two. If you have a HOB chaeto, consider adding a HOB skimmer, such as the Reef Octopus line or some higher level ones. You can drop your heater in the return side of the skimmer too.

On a good ATO setup, this would be better use of the under space. Setup your ATO and a potential kalkwasser or 2 part if you do go with corals.
 

roid reefs

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Welcome back! that old sump of yours is being put to good use! its working wonderfully for my 75 gallon. Glad to see that you are stepping back in.
Was that you who came into Aquatic specialties this weekend to get the dragons breath and other macros?
 

Eileash

Peppermint Shrimp
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New Orleans
Yeah, everyone I talk to about my hobby thinks I’m crazy. Even people who keep fish usually only have one or two tanks. Where myself, I’ll throw out the book shelf to make room for another tank. Easy decision to me.

For the battery back up, any recommendations? I know ecotech makes one, but are there any merits to it versus a computer battery backup from bestbuy? Or any other variety of battery backups?

I’ve been probably WAY overthinking my stocking options. I know I want the two clowns, but outside of that I’m unsure. I don’t really have a “draw” to another fish. I’ve thought a bit about seahorses. I know the height of the hex would be great for them, but I have a few concerns. One, I do want some coral and I’m a little nervous about choices in corals for seahorse tanks. Most of the options I’ve seen for seahorses seem dull in color, and I definitely want it to be a little more vibrant. The second concern is flow. With coral, I think I have the potential for the correct flow amount, but that would probably blow the seahorses all over the place. So not sure on that just yet.

For the puck lights, is there one or two you recommend? I know I’m going to stuggle managing the intensity at the bottom without having a laser light effect on top.

Would a hob skimmer be a better option than the red devil on there now? I currently hate how much of the red devil is actually in the tank. A hob would definitely reduce that but I don’t want to sacrifice performance. Is there one that might fit my giant heater? The cobalt 200 is probably 8-10 inches long- friggin huge. Lol

Anyways, thanks for lending some of your wisdom.
 

Eileash

Peppermint Shrimp
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Welcome back! that old sump of yours is being put to good use! its working wonderfully for my 75 gallon. Glad to see that you are stepping back in.
Was that you who came into Aquatic specialties this weekend to get the dragons breath and other macros?
Yep. That was me.
 

roid reefs

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I thought you looked familiar, just couldn't place from where. I definitely like the hex tanks. great replacements for an end table!
 

Eileash

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Welcome back! I gave my last system away as well. Met me a good friend @BluewaterLa in the process. As soon as I was able, I got back in and been here ever since. Let us know what we can do to help. Take care.
Thanks. I’ll try to stick around this time. '~strng~'
 
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jleblanc26

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I use a aquamaxx HOB and love it. I also use a cobalt neotherm heater. I can recommend both so far. You should be able to get away with just one 150w neotherm on that tank. The heater would fit pretty good in the intake chamber of the skimmer.
 

BluewaterLa

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Welcome back to the addiction !! -cheers2-

We have a member here that is keeping seahorses well with some corals and few other good tank mates. I'm sure she would be able to help you out and help decide if you want to forgo that route.

The only overflow option I could see would be to do a glass hole over flow being they are smaller and less obstructive in the tank visually.
If you could not fit a cube sump under the stand you could always make an external Refugium on a short stand next to the tank.
In this remote refugium you could stock pile all sorts of macro algae that would help filter the water and even grow out some stalks of Mangrove too for great looks. Using a mud substrate would greatly help keep water quality up and create a living ecosystem growing plenty of bugs for natural foods.
This would be what I would do with it anyway.
 

Eileash

Peppermint Shrimp
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Welcome back to the addiction !! -cheers2-

We have a member here that is keeping seahorses well with some corals and few other good tank mates. I'm sure she would be able to help you out and help decide if you want to forgo that route.

The only overflow option I could see would be to do a glass hole over flow being they are smaller and less obstructive in the tank visually.
If you could not fit a cube sump under the stand you could always make an external Refugium on a short stand next to the tank.
In this remote refugium you could stock pile all sorts of macro algae that would help filter the water and even grow out some stalks of Mangrove too for great looks. Using a mud substrate would greatly help keep water quality up and create a living ecosystem growing plenty of bugs for natural foods.
This would be what I would do with it anyway.
Good to know there’s a place to go for questions if go seahorses. I’ll probably research a ton first though. Plus I want to get the hang of simple husbandry of a simple tank for a bit. Just kinda get to know my equipment and all that. Last time, while I was hanging on, I was hanging on by a thread. I had algae issues, nitrate issues, I couldn’t get the easiest corals to thrive, and several times I probably nearly burned the house down. What’s a hobby without a little adventure right? Lol I had way too many things going on I didn’t fully understand. My goal for now at least is to not repeat old mistakes and TRY to be safer. I’ll probably get one cheap zoa frag and just concentrate on making that happy. I’ll see how well I do there, then work my way up- slow and steady.
Thanks for the support and wisdom! I’m sure I’ll have a ton of questions soon!
 

Eileash

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Alright, question: so with the macro came a rock with a few little zoas on it. I figured they were worthy guinea pigs in my new saltwater try. I placed them pretty close to the bottom because I wanted some clues as to how well my light actually reaches. I know zoas can thrive in less than ideal conditions, but when they extend, they’re probably working hard to reach light. So here they are.
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Please excuse the ugly. They look starved of light to me. Am I right?
 

CenlaReefer

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Good to know there’s a place to go for questions if go seahorses. I’ll probably research a ton first though. Plus I want to get the hang of simple husbandry of a simple tank for a bit. Just kinda get to know my equipment and all that. Last time, while I was hanging on, I was hanging on by a thread. I had algae issues, nitrate issues, I couldn’t get the easiest corals to thrive, and several times I probably nearly burned the house down. What’s a hobby without a little adventure right? Lol I had way too many things going on I didn’t fully understand. My goal for now at least is to not repeat old mistakes and TRY to be safer. I’ll probably get one cheap zoa frag and just concentrate on making that happy. I’ll see how well I do there, then work my way up- slow and steady.
Thanks for the support and wisdom! I’m sure I’ll have a ton of questions soon!
Welcome back to LARC!

After your above comments, I would wait on seahorses. They have to be fed multiple times per day and need low nitrates... more tank maintenance is required. They are much harder to keep than corals. As far as zoas go, they have been hit and miss for me. I think they are ph sensitive. Some do better than others. I think some LPS (i.e. trumpets like Chris recommended) or softies are great to start with. Frogspawn and Duncan corals are 2 LPS corals that are also extremely hearty.
 

Eileash

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Welcome back to LARC!

After your above comments, I would wait on seahorses. They have to be fed multiple times per day and need low nitrates... more tank maintenance is required. They are much harder to keep than corals. As far as zoas go, they have been hit and miss for me. I think they are ph sensitive. Some do better than others. I think some LPS (i.e. trumpets like Chris recommended) or softies are great to start with. Frogspawn and Duncan corals are 2 LPS corals that are also extremely hearty.

Thank you. Yeah, I want to feel comfortable with the basics first. While seahorses may not be super advanced, they do seem more advanced than what I’m comfortable with just yet. I think I’ll take your suggestion with the easy LPS or softies. Like I said, I want to get one, work on making that happy, then add something else. I’m looking to make tiny baby steps this time.
 

clsanchez77

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Thank you. Yeah, I want to feel comfortable with the basics first. While seahorses may not be super advanced, they do seem more advanced than what I’m comfortable with just yet. I think I’ll take your suggestion with the easy LPS or softies. Like I said, I want to get one, work on making that happy, then add something else. I’m looking to make tiny baby steps this time.

I also have some excess Calaustrea that I will be selling shortly. It is a teal colored branching LPS that is quite easy to keep. Prefers low light and very tolerable to variable water conditions.
 

BluewaterLa

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Alright, question: so with the macro came a rock with a few little zoas on it. I figured they were worthy guinea pigs in my new saltwater try. I placed them pretty close to the bottom because I wanted some clues as to how well my light actually reaches. I know zoas can thrive in less than ideal conditions, but when they extend, they’re probably working hard to reach light. So here they are.
View attachment 9048
Please excuse the ugly. They look starved of light to me. Am I right?

give them a while to settle into the tank and see how they respond.
some Zoa and paly will stretch a bit or seem to because they are long stalk varieties.
In most cases soft corals will stretch toward the light if they are not getting enough, Yes.
 
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