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Kendra's 3.5g Barracuda


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Hey, I wanted to throw some pictures up of the pico I've been working on. I had originally gotten a bigger tank but found that it was too big for the bedside stand, so it's happily moved on to the Grassi house. I found a smaller AIO from PicO Aquariums, which is a one guy operation out of Chicago. The display is 2.3g and the sump area is 1.2g. Total dimensions are 12x9x8.


Current equipment:

-Rio 400 return pump

-25W heater

-Filter floss


Current livestock:

-A couple of rocks... aka the smallest pieces I could find from the 12g and 34g tanks.

-Sand.. Nature's Ocean or something?



-LED light fixture: 4 3W royal blue Cree XR-Es & 4 3W white Q5 XR-Es on 2 dimmable 1000mA buckpucks on a 9x6" heatsink. Just finished drilling & tapping for the mount yesterday. Now I just need to mount the LEDs and start some soldering action... once the babysitter gets here! LOL

-refugium in middle chamber


-some zoas, maybe a bright acan or two, a tiny head of torch

-considering a yellow clown goby if I decide to add fish

-some stomatellas from the solana

-shrimp... undecided as to type


Pics: (sorry they are iPhone pics right now)

Here is the current FTS. Oh, the possibilities :)



Tank started up on July 11.


July 12 tests:

Ammonia = 0

Nitrites = 0

Nitrates = 0



July 16 tests:

Ammonia = 0.25

Nitrites = 0

Nitrates = 5-10


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My light works!!! It really works! (clap) And holy cow, it's bright. (rock2) The layout is 4x2:





Heatsink stayed perfectly cool after a couple of hours of intro time last night. I didn't install any fans because I was hoping that the sheer size of the heatsink would be enough to dissipate the heat. Looking good so far. I can post pics of the build too if anyone is interested. They're just iPhone pics but are a good accounting of all of my missteps, ha ha. DOH!


New FTS, blue at ~40%, white at ~30%:



Lights w/blue at 100%, white at 0%



White at 100%, blue at 0%:



Both at 100%:






Yeah, I have fingerprints all over the glass top and the acrylic shield... I'll clean that up! Today's project is getting some heat shrink and cleaning up all the wiring.


This is just my first pico. I've done a lot of reading, and there are some great resources at nano-reef.com under their pico reef subforum. I found that one of the best ways to learn is to read other people's tank threads to see their successes and failures. As for do's and don'ts... well, you can imagine that it is hard to keep them stable so you have to be careful with everything that goes along with that - eg not overfeeding, not overstocking, doing frequent water changes, etc. I'm going to build an ATO to help keep the salinity more stable, although I admit that topping off twice a day isn't the hardest thing in the world. Also have to be careful about the CUC you choose because you don't want ones that produce too much waste, or ones that will starve. Wish me luck!!

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Wow Kendra you're so handy!(clap) Very awesome! I'm impressed. I would so get a clown goby if I were you. We had one but gave him away because he kept perching on our sps and was causing damage. He was so cute and had so much personality and spunk.


I loved that little guy. I miss you Lenny.(sad)

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Thanks, everyone! Here are some pics of the build. Alex, I'm eventually going to see if i can build something with an arm off of the back so that you can see the rimless better, but I don't think I'll suspend it.


Here is the sketch of what I had intended to do. The buckpucks have external potentiometers prewired to them that I didn't draw out, but that's how the lights dim:




First I drilled and tapped the heatsink for the mounting screws:




After cleaning the surfaces, I stuck the thermal adhesive pads on, and stuck the LED stars on those:




This is out of focus, so you might not notice that I didn't stick them on like I had planned! DOH! This would not be realized until later, after I wired it:




And then found that only half of both the blues and whites worked: (scratch)




Went back to my sketch and realized my error, rewired, and... (clap)




The good news is that my error gave me the opportunity to rewire everything, and I was much better at soldering by that point!! The bad news is that if I had taken the time to drill & tap for the LED stars, I could have changed their orientation more easily, but I used the adhesive pads... so they are ON there (for real). But it's not the biggest deal, just a little extra wire.


Updates on the tank cycle... colors were a little different in person, so trust me on the numbers! Also, I had added some fresh shrimp:

July 23:

Ammonia ~ 1.0

Nitrite ~ 0.25

Nitrate = 10-20



July 28:

Ammonia = 0-0.25

Nitrite = 0

Nitrate = 20+


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