Class room frag tank hopes


NYC Bio Teacher
Manhattan Reefs
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Queens, NY
I have been piecing together things for a frag tank for my HS Marine Bio classroom. I have a 60 gallon tank and 36 gallon sump, a bio block and some live rock that have been aging for three months. A couple of pumps, ample lighting, salts and test kits..... It seems that I do not need a skimmer, but have at least one at my disposal. It also seems that this can be much easier than I've been anticipating it to be. Can anyone point me to where to get advice from a practicing reefer? My school's in Manhattan, Midtown West, I live in Queens.


Manhattan Reefs
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Hi. I was also looking to start a nano tank in the school but my main concern is the temp in the room. Even if we can get access to the school during the vacation days or 4 day weekends, the room temperature fluctuates which will be an issue. I would suggest a Fish Only System in the beginning as the temp swings could be an issue for coral.

Let us know how it goes.


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Long Island, NY
Im gonna tell you how I started my tank just cause I wish someone told me! maybe you can learn something you didn't know :)

*DONT RUSH THE CYCLE EVER* (most important thing i've learned)

1. Prepare: made sure I had all my equipment before adding ANY water. have the major things you need set up first. Dont add major things as you go along. You want everything to be stable and thats the key to success. Most important things, Lights, Sand, Rock, Filtration, Heater, Wavemakers / Pumps.

2. Filtration: Made sure all my filtration was ready, all components are set up. In my case a sump. Plumbing, Media, Return. Like I said make sure you dont add any media during the cycle. You dont want it to make any big changes and screw up the cycle.

3. More filtration: I found it was best with using rocks in my sump with sand and chaeto. Chaeto really helps with the nitrates. I never put any other sort of filtration besides a filter sock for the drain, which helps catch any left over food or debris that goes into the drain. I really like to keep a natural filtration. I didnt add a skimmer until I got more into LPS corals. All I kept was zoanthids. so once I was feeding more corals, I felt it was necessary to get a skimmer. I did just fine without it, I just wanted to make sure the water was clean.

4. The cycle: I cycled my tank by adding Dr. Timms liquid ammonia along with BioSpira (beneficial live bacteria to eat the ammonia). It worked instantly, I was testing everyday and adding ammonia as the bottle said to, and it blew my mind. Although my cycle was finished in a week, I waited a little over a month before adding any sort of livestock. I ran my lights a few hours a day just to get some algae breakout during the cycle rather than after the cycle.

5. Adding livestock: I started out with a Clean up crew. Nassarius snails and hermits. Within two weeks I then added a pair of clownfish. Since I took my cycle very seriously and went slowly, My tests came back normal.

6. Corals: I didn't add my first coral until a month after I got my clownfish. I started with zoanthids, cause they are known to be easy and hardy corals. I started them off in the sand and gradually raised them each week. I spot fed them reefroids once a week. My lights ran for about 12 hours a day on mainly blues. Not too high of an intensity.

7. Stability/Corals: Once my system was running with fish and zoas for about 4 months, I then added some LPS. I added a hammer frag and some pulsing Xenia. I changed my lighting to more whites and blues mixed. Here and there I would notice some corals being upset but I tested and made sure I dosed what I was lacking. At one point I was moving the corals around when all I had to do was just dose. Dont move anything around unless your parameters are perfect. The first issue with corals is usually parameters. Corals get unhappy to too many changes in their environment and I learned that when my hammer was receding a bit.

8. Water: I use a RODI machine from, cause I found that even when I used primer on tap water, I had a large amount of algae in my tank. and my corals seemed much happier when I switched to RODI water. Tap has a lot of chlorine and other elements that are not good for fish and corals. Not saying you have to buy one, They have them at Walmart, Local fish stores and Many people in the hobby im sure can help you out. You can get by on dechlorinated tap water or distilled water with primer but its more beneficial to use one of these machines in the long run.

9. Water changes: DO not miss a water change, try to stay on a strict schedule of the exact day every week or every week and a half when you change your water. Top off the evaporated water with fresh water without any salt in it. Being on a strict water change schedule is very important because trace elements are lost over a certain period of time because corals consume them. You want to make sure you stick to water changes so you can replenish the trace elements and keep them at a stable level by making sure they never drop too low. Trace elements are the most important thing for corals to survive.

10. Maintenance: One major rule I have is, keeping my hands out of the tank. I find when I leave the tank be and don't move things around, the tank is happier. Its hard when you want everything to look perfect but sometimes you just gotta keep ur hands out. I make sure I change my filter sock regularly. Everyone says you have to change them every day but I do every three days and it's worked for me. I clean my skimmer during every water change. So once a week.

My failures: 1. My first tank, I rushed the crap out of. I was impatient. I put a piece of raw shrimp in the tank to add ammonia. It stunk up my room so bad. So I took it out and did a 50% water change. I brought my water to the store a day after to be tested and they said I was ready for fish. When it most certainly wasn't. The fish were fine, they didn't die. I still have them, but I added in zoa's a week later and they all died due to too much ammonia. I fixed this by adding beneficial bacteria (Biospira) to remove all the ammonia and it worked but took a few weeks to get normal. 2. I also overfed my first tank. When the fish eat, they don't stop. So just make sure you don't keep feeding them just cause they are still eating. it doesn't mean they are starving they just like it and I learned that the hard way haha. 3. I wish I used a sump on my first tank. Having the extra space for biological bacteria and filtration has kept my new tank so much more stable and happy.

I know this is all over the place but I tried to hit as many points as possible. You will have ups and downs, anyone who says they haven't is lying. Don't be discouraged or shy if you have a stupid question. No questions are stupid here! Just keep things stable, stay on top of water changes and I think you'll be fine :)

You are doing a frag tank so I know you dont have sand and all that, but if you have any questions message me and i'll gladly help as much as I can :)