Today on BRStv we are going to start a highly
requested series for newer reefers just starting the hobby who want to spend a reasonable amount
of time and money setting the tank up. In this first episode we are going to set up
a smaller sized, affordable and most importantly, easy to take care of tank.
Hi I’m Ryan host of BRSTV where each week we cover a new topic related to reefing. This
week inside of six minutes we are going to set up a new tank for less than $500 bucks
in gear, we will have it set up in less than a couple hours and show you a maintenance
schedule that takes less than 30 minutes a couple times a month.
The kit we put together includes a 16 gallon Nuvo Aquarium. These tanks are super easy
to set up, attractive and can be put basically anywhere. In fact this package also doubles
as an excellent way to bring your hobby to the office.
The kit includes a heater, sand, rock, salt mix, a tool to measure salt, fish food, glass
cleaner and a bottle of bacteria to get the filtration started. First step is to find
a nice spot for the tank which is level and can hold a couple hundred pounds. Like a countertop,
sturdy cabinet, table. Keep in mind whatever you put it on is likely to get wet occasionally.
It is recommended to not place the tank in a spot where it will sit in direct sunlight.
Next add your rock. Try and stack it in a way that keeps the rock a few inches from
the sides and top as well as stable. Pour in the sand and spread it around the base
of the rock. So we added 15 gallons of water to this Brute
trash can. It’s probably the most popular type of mixing container. Mixing the water
is super easy. Just add the salt to the water and look through this tool called a refractometer
to measure the salinity. The scale inside measures salt in parts per thousand or specific
gravity. More or less just dissolve the salt, add a few drops of water to the lens, close,
wait 20 seconds or so and look through the eye piece. It should read 35 parts per thousand
or 1.026. Fifteen gallons of water should take around seven or so cups of salt. The
standard version of crystal seas marine mix contains a dechlorinator so you don’t need
to be concerned about the chlorine in your tap water if you are using the standard mix.
While you are waiting for the salt to dissolve, take a moment to check all the tubing connections
on the pump and get familiar with the back of the tank. This area in the back is used
to house equipment like pumps, filters and heaters where they are out of the way.
Go ahead and mount the heater in one of the chambers on the left or right fairly low so
it will stay submerged at all times. Once you have everything situated pour in your
mixed saltwater and plug everything in. Since we are dealing with water the ideal outlet
has a GFI like one you would find in your bathroom or kitchen or a powerstrip with a
GFI built in. At minimum make sure you arrange the cords
in a way that will cause drips to fall of safely rather than travel down the cord to
the outlet which is called a drip loop. Pretty much every electrical item in the tank will
show a quick diagram on how they suggest to do it properly in the instructions.
Now that water is circulating we just set the water to 78 degrees by tapping the button
and replace. Install our lights and the tank is set up. This literally took us less than
an hour to do from start to finish. All we need to do now is build up the beneficial
bacteria to build up and start filtering our tank.
You probably noticed we don’t have an actual filter on the tank like you might expect.
That’s because the filtration is primarily done on the surface of the rock and sand where
beneficial bacteria populate and process excess food and fish waste for you. Really don’t
have to do anything special to maintain this type of filtration, in fact there really isn’t
much you could do in a normal reef tank to prevent this bacteria from populating and
filtering your tank for you, really it’s that easy.
While the bacteria would populate on its own over time, new tank owners typically aren’t
that patient and there are a couple of things we can do to speed the process up in the tank.
First we used live sand which contains live dormant bacteria, in this case we used the
Ocean Direct brand which contains natural bacteria found in the sea.
At this point it is wise to let the tank rest overnight and heat up. In the morning add
your Bio-Spira and the tank is ready for your first fish. The Bio-Spira and live sand will
provide the filtration needed to protect your fish but it is always wise to start with something
pretty hardy like a clownfish as your first addition.
After that give your tank a month stabilize with the lights off before adding anything
new. Keeping the lights off will help reduce algae growth common with new tanks. As a general
rule of thumb I find it is wise to never more than double your fish load in a single month
meaning next month add another fish and possibly two the month after.
Some of my favorite new reefer fish selections for a tank like this is standard clownfish,
purple or red fire fish, shrimp and goby pairs, lawn mower or midas blennys or an orchid dotty
back. Once the tank is stabilized around your fish
population,you can add some interesting elements like snails, crabs and shrimp. Nassarious
and astria snails are popular as well as small hermits, emerald crabs, cleaner shrimp, peppermint
shrimp and pistol shrimp. After that some easy to keep corals as well.
The lights that come with the kit are strong enough to keep some low light corals, as a
beginner is also wise to select some that don’t require much effort like soft or even
some LPS corals. Zoanthids, mushrooms, recordia , polyps, candy canes, duncans, torch and
frog spawn. Now that the tank is set up there is a couple
ongoing maintenance steps to keep the tank healthy. First is feeding the fish. These
little buggers always look hungry but don’t let them fool you. Easy to keep fish like
the ones I just mentioned only need to eat once a day at the most, many people even feed
less. When you do feed them they only need a few pellets each which is just a tiny pinch.
This is a pretty critical point on a small tank like this. Keep in mind that while fish
do need food, the primary thing that pollutes the tank is food and it does promotes algae
growth. You will also need to top the tank off with
freshwater every couple days. Keep in mind that while water will evaporate the salt doesn’t
leave the tank so topping off the tank with new water to compensate for evaporation should
always be done with fresh water not saltwater. We recommend picking up a few jugs of reverse
osmosis or distilled water from your local grocery store for this purpose.
Less frequently, you will need to clean the glass , you can use the JBJ cleaner included
with the kit. You will also need to change the water regularly in a small system like
this meaning every other week. Water changes are the primary method of removing broken
down food and other elements which can pollute the tank over time. Water changes will also
be a new reefer’s primary method of replacing elements consumed by the corals in the tank.
I like to do twenty to thirty percent water changes which are super easy and shouldn’t
take more than a few minutes. First thing is you will want to use the small heater and
pump from the package to mix and heat the saltwater before doing the change. I find
it easiest to take a minute or so to do this the night before I do my water change but
it could be done a few hours in advance as well.
For a tank this size I would probably do close to five gallon water change. All you do is
remove the water from the tank and then replace with your heated freshly mixed saltwater.
There are a hundred ways to maintain a successful reef tank but I can tell you something for
absolute sure, if you are careful about the amount of food you put in the tank and good
about your water changes you are almost certainly going to have a lot of success and enjoy the
hobby. In future episodes we will explore some upgrade
kits most reefers would be interested in as their tank evolves and interest in the hobby
grows. This video was intentionally pretty high level and provides the elements you absolutely
need to know to be successful. If you have the desire to understand all this at a deeper
level we literally have hundreds of other reefing videos most of which cover a vast
majority of topics related to reefing. Really anything you could want to know in a pretty
in-depth format. If this your first time with us hit that subscribe button because we do
this every week. See you all next week with another episode of BRStv.