Hello. I moved to Cincinnati from Shuya, Russia in 2019. I live here for a bit longer than a year and I like it so far. In June, suddenly, I decided to build a reef tank, to get back to my old hobby because got stuck in the US and couldn't go home for a summer break. My first tank I built in November-December 2011 inspired by people from one Ukrainian fishkeepers' forum, it was about 3 gallon large, totally tiny. LEDs have been just appearing that time and weren't easily accessible (at least where I grew up), everything was very difficult to get, especially livestock. I knew an experienced reefer who sold/donated me some corals and that saved me.
Soon after I switched schools, slightly neglected the tank and built another one, about 10 gallon large in January 2016. That one was better, but not without issues. I sold it out in winter 2018 because was expecting to leave the country. I had acanthastrea, some zoanthids, mini carpet anemone, palythoas, trachyphillia, purple seriatopora, neon-green leptoseris and GSP. Everything was going pretty well until I decided to sell it. By that time I met more friends in city where I got my BS and we cooperated with shipping livestock from Moscow. Unfortunately, I don't have many pictures of that tank with all aforementioned corals in place. Then I decided to make a tiny tank, about a gallon large, just for fun. I like having blue lights in my bedroom. I put GSP, some zoanthids, sunset montipora frag and some random acroporas. Surprisingly, it survived for a while until I sold that tank as well. Now I'm building something more reliable, with a bit of monitoring and automation and of a comfortable size to keep it more or less stable and forgiving. I bought an Aqueon 20g long tank in Petco and got darn surprised of the thin glass it's made of. I, personally, wouldn't make such a tank of anything thinner than 1/4" and as soon as I received it I wanted to make the same tank of 1/4" glass myself but got pissed off of glass costs. So I kept it - it holds water without bending too much. I initially wanted to drill it but things went off the plan because of budget issues. I started things up on Aug 10 with RC salt, 20 lbs of Nature's ocean sand and 20 lbs of some dry rock. Tomorrow or on Thursday I'm receiving the first batch of corals. I ordered 6 frags of zoas, a couple mushrooms, galaxy coral, frogspawn and a hammer coral from eBay. I've always wanted to get a giant euphyllia but decided to get smaller ones at least for the beginning. I'm planning to get some more mushrooms and LPS next month and, hopefully, shrimps, to complete the ecosystem. Later, when the sump will be finished I'll start getting some forgiving SPS like montipora, pocillopora and seriatopora (birdsnest). Hopefully I'll be able to keep some acroporas as well, but later. I think the sump with a skimmer, refugium/biopellets and ATO is very desirable for that so I already got a Red Devil 250 skimmer and some stuff for the ATO. Maybe that skimmer won't remove much waste but at least will limit pH swings during the day with the air taken from the street. I also plan to make a controlled power outlet, pH+Salinity+temp monitoring through a Raspberry Pi, to see how things are going while I'm off for a break. Please, don't try to change my mind towards Apex or something, I just want to craft something my own being an engineer. At the moment I have an Aquaclear 70 with Purigen, Matrix Carbon and PhosGuard in it, Jebao SW-4 on 50% power agitating the surface and some T5 24W lights: two actinics and two 14K's. It looks too white to me and it gathers all the salt creep onto itself which I hate. I probably will replace it with two Kessil A80's, idk. I don't like the shimmer effect of LED's, to be honest, and I have no idea why some reefkeepers love it so much. It's kinda annoying to me to constantly look at flickering spots. Kessils shouldn't show much of that. Thanks so much for reading and I'm sorry for the long text without many pictures. I'd be glad to get to know some other reefkeepers here in Cincy. Being a chemist as well I have some decent experience with DIY test kits which I'd love to share if there are people interested. At the moment some diatomic algae are starting to appear but it should be okay. The kH is 7.3, Ca is 470-480 and nitrates are 2 mg/L. I suspect the nitrates to come out of the live sand, but it's good I have some because I don't want the first corals to starve. Also, I'd be glad to get some GSP from someone to glue it onto the back side.