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That's one FLASHY pico!

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Yeah, that's right - I'm already deeming this tank FLASHY, before it even has inhabitants!  :D:crab:

For me, this is a very fancy tank, because it is my first non-Petco tank. I've gone off the deep end and paid $10/gallon for a glass box! :shock:  It's a 3 gallon tank with hella awesome dimensions of 18" long x 5.5" wide x 7" high, made by Aqua Top. I'll be on PETA's most wanted list soon, because I am sooooo putting a fish in there!  But first...


Lights, rocks, ACTION!  Look at all that coralline I managed to grow without even putting water in the tank! :cool:  Alternatively, I may have purchased some man made purple rock to give me the lived-in look in an instant.


Although it appears the rocks are touching the front glass panel, they are not. Just really hard to get a top-down shot when you have to stand on your bed to do it!


Just enough space on my nightstand, which is actually a metal table. I put a dish drying mat under the tank to help with the issue of salt creep/splash rusting the table, although I'm sure it'll happen eventually. Perfect excuse to spray paint the table in a new color someday!


The 20" Odyssea light fixture, I already had, and it fits atop this tank beautifully. I had to hit eBay for the 18W T5 bulbs it takes, because only one or two companies make them, but much cheaper than buying a whole new fixture. There is one 10,000K daylight bulb and one actinic bulb.

Other equipment is on its way to me, although it may take a little trial and error to get a powerhead and heater in just the right sizes. Once I get the combo down, I'll share what I'm using. I'm still on the hunt for substrate, but I have in mind something chunky that I could potentially sift the detritus out of using a colander, as part of a regular maintenance routine. More to come on that. 

Coral plans involve encrusting LPS like platygyra and favia, and I plan to put a maxi-mini or two in there. Inverts to be determined. Fish will be a diadem dottyback, who can murder his piscine tankmates all day long, because they'll all be imaginary! :puffer: I've always wanted one of those fish. :wub: Sixline wrasse would be my first choice, but the light fixture is not quite the width of the tank, leaving a half inch gap at the front and back of the tank and easy access for carpet surfing. I'm hoping a dottyback will be less adventurous in that regard.

Next addition: WATER! I heard it plays an important role.:fish:

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58 minutes ago, stylaster said:

Great aquascape. Thats going to be a sweet pico

Second that!  Great job with such a tight space. Looking forward to seeing this with livestock. 

Interestingly, I never had an issue with six lines jumping. Maybe because they were always the ones doing the chasing/attacking! We used to call ours "wrassehole". (Feel free to delete that if you thinks it's a much mods).

Edited by albertareef
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30 minutes ago, PowderBlue said:

What are your plans for filtration? Just water changes and natural filter or are you going to do an external filter of some sort?

No external filtration. I have a little fishbowl type filter from my freshwater days that would allow me to run carbon if I ever needed to, but it would be an eyesore, so I decided against it.

Because the water volume is so slight, I feel the tank will benefit greatly from regular maintenance of 50-100% water changes and detritus sifted from the substrate. The live rock will be the backbone of the system.

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20 minutes ago, xmas_one said:

That's a sweet little setup. I think as far as fish though you will be limited to gobies. I have had great luck with yellow clown gobies in small tanks.

Yes, that is the typical route with picos, going with a goby. I have fish more suited to this tank size, but they all get along and play well in the "big tank." A bully fish is not something I could get away with in other tanks. A dottyback may very well outgrow this little box, but the length is where I earn some forgiveness. 18" is a decent amount of swim space for a small, rock-hugging fish. As the fish grows, I'll have to assess how well it's continuing to work out (or not). I've done picos before, but this will be my first saltwater pico and should lead to some interesting experiences. :)

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Tiny little things!  While they can't be completely camouflaged, both are relatively unobtrusive. I'm thrilled with the physical size of the pump! It came with a bunch of different attachments, but I think the nozzle is best. Seems just the right amount of power for LPS, and I can see a light ripple at the water surface. Heater could stand to be a little smaller, but it'll do. I thought I might have to try a few different things, but looks like I'm sticking with these. :happy:





You can see the heater under the long rock, but I think once I get substrate in and start adding livestock, it'll be no big deal. I notice my water level is very uneven, so I'll have to prop something under my table on the left to correct that. It's probably no big risk to leave as-is, but I don't like how it looks. I added 2 gallons of saltwater before the rocks and equipment, so I have a little space to fill with more water before I start stocking.

I tossed in a bottle of Bio-spira a couple days ago, along with a few fish food pellets to get things going. Today, I poured in a small amount of pods from a new bag (side note: very happy with my first Algae Barn order!), so there is life in there, just nothing you can really see. I jumped the gun a little, because I won't have any livestock ready for the tank for another few weeks (stringent QT practices), but I can probably add a small amount of live phyto here and there without harm. That should keep the pods fed without fouling the tank.

Still thinking on cool inverts to add. I'm not going to do sexy shrimp, since the dottyback would surely eat them. Pederson shrimp are cool, but would meet the same fate. Maybe a strawberry crab? I've seem some that looked large enough to bother a small fish, so I don't know; I'm not familiar with keeping crabs and only have experience with pompoms. (If I could catch the pompom crab from my 20g, I'd move him over, but there's zero chance of that happening.) Crinoid squat lobsters can be found in cool colors on occasion, so maybe one of those? Bullseye pistol shrimp is another interesting one, but would the fish be safe from the shrimp and the shrimp safe from the fish? I have no idea... all I know about them is that they're loud clickers and do not pair with gobies. I'm sure there are dozens of options; I just need to find good matches in terms of staying small and cohabiting well with the fish. And obviously, it has to be flashy! :crab:

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  • 3 weeks later...

Cycle is complete, corals are reaching the end of their QT, and I'm about to start stocking! :fish:

I have a few corals I want to add, but I don't want to cram them all in at once and watch them die. I was thinking I'd add one hardy piece and see how it goes, then slowly add the rest. Question is, which to add first? Here's what I have at the moment:

- plate coral (cycloseris type) - if it fits!
- single lobo head
- green favia (don't know the name; looks like this)
- war favia
- platygyra 

Which of those would you consider hardiest/best to test with? Or, would you say they're all similar in that regard?  None of them are super touchy, obviously, but this tank is a little nerve-racking on first addition, considering the size. I managed to get only a bit more than 2 gallons of water in after rocks and equipment were placed. I ordered substrate online, but didn't like it much when it arrived (thought it would be all chunks and shells; turned out to be those things mixed in with fine sand), so I plan to shop for something else this week. I want something like freshwater gravel, but nicer looking and reef safe. A mix of seashells and coral skeleton pieces is what I imagine, although I don't know that such a mixture exists for sale in a bag. 

Still on the hunt for my fish. The only diadem dottybacks I've seen lately are fatty-fat 3" monsters. I need to find a tiny babe under 2" and cross my fingers it's not huge in mere months. I have seem some strawberry dottybacks on the smaller side, so I may go with that if I spot a healthy one.

Not totally decided on inverts, but leaning towards a strawberry crab. It would provide a nice color contrast with the corals and dottyback, and they're easy enough to find. A bit large, but it would probably be the only invert, since I wouldn't trust it with snails. Clean-up crew is me, myself, and I!

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  • 2 months later...

I'll get some pictures up soon, although it's slow going and challenging to stock. I added several corals a couple of months ago, but most had to be removed because they couldn't take the amount of light they were getting. It's only a 2-bulb T5 fixture running for 4 to 5 hours a day, but it's just inches from everything and too much for many types of LPS I was hoping to keep in there.

So far, only 2 corals have kept their vibrance and done well: an orange cycloseris plate and a particular green favia (two other favias had to be removed after they started to bleach). I also added 2 maxi-mini nems, which handle the light just fine, but one crawled off to a corner with the good side facing the wrong way/its foot facing the front glass, and neither is as brightly colored as I'd really like, so I may swap them out for better ones.

Still no substrate, no fish, and no crew inverts, other than a single cerith I tossed in a while back. I have some summer trips coming up, so I'm emptying out my QT tanks to make things easier on the tank sitter, which means I'm at a standstill with buying new livestock. August is a more realistic timeframe for me to really get this thing properly stocked. It'll take more trial and error to find corals that are a good fit.

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3 hours ago, Sharklover said:

Just rude.

:laugh: I agree!

I will say, this tank has been easy in some ways I didn't expect it to be. I manually top off the water and find once every couple of days to be sufficient. When I set up the tank, I was worried I'd be topping off 2-3 days a day, but it just doesn't evaporate that quickly. Must be the short lighting schedule each day. Lights come on around 9-10 pm, since I'm not in my bedroom during the day to see the tank. Sometimes I fall asleep while they're still on, but usually I'm up late enough to see them turn off. By that point, it's 2 am and a good reminder I should go to sleep! For tank maintenance, I simply mix up new water and do a 100% water change every few weeks. Because the rock structure is one piece, it's easy to remove and put back in a minute later, so beneficial bacteria isn't lost. Haven't had any issues with corals or anemones reacting poorly to this routine, since I make sure to match temp and salinity each time. I also give the glass a gentle wipe down with a magic eraser whenever algae builds up. The heater was removed, because it was keeping the tank too warm, and I don't miss the eyesore of it one bit.

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  • 4 weeks later...

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