It's usually better to ask your own questions in a specific thread so that personalized dialogues don't clog up this stickied thread. Use the new topic option to start your own thread (note to others: use the new topic option wisely, i.e., after doing some searches for similar questions). However, most of your questions are sufficiently general to be useful in this sticky.
1. When should we start changing water? I love the idea of just swapping a 16 oz. cup everyday - thanks for that idea! But I'd like to know if 3 to 4 weeks of cycled/cured live rock and only shrimp/crabs with zero nitrites or ammonia for 1 week+ is OK to start this process? Or can someone just lay out a basic guideline for newbies?
You can start during the cycle, in which case this is called soft cycling and most often done when the rock is "fresh/uncured" with many desirable hitchhikers that would normally die in a traditional cycle. Or, you can wait until the cycle is has progressed. With cured (=precycled) rock, you can start water changes immediately. Having livestock is usually the easiest signal to begin doing changes.
2. What about how to figure out what NEWLY hatched bad guys look like (ie. aiptasia and majano)? I'd like to ID these before they get big and the only pics I can find online are fully grown. Are there different forms of aiptasia or just the clear or beige colored squiggly nebulous ugly ones? For instance, do any look more like a zoanthid? This might be a crazy question (sorry!)
Aiptasia and other anemones look the same when they're small and when they are large. Aiptasia may appear clear or light brown, but the best indicator are fairly long/pointed tentacles, unlike zoanthids. They look like the archetypal "polyp". Manjanos have bulbous tips for their tentacles. Also, anything that has branched/serrated tentacles is not an anemone. It may either be a soft coral (octocoral) or feather duster worm (serpulid/sabellid). Check the identification forum for good guides and hundreds of reference photos from other members.
3. More about the sand or substrate (or lack thereof). I bought tiny "sand" sized sand and now I fear things like trapped toxic air bubbles and weird purple stuff growing in the shady parts... etc. Even with "sand-stirring" snails (how do I know if those things are even alive - I can't see them!!) But, I've heard that pebble (or smallish) sized stuff or crushed coral can trap nitrate-making wastes. Which leads me to the bare-bottomed tank option which seems kind of harsh to me (like not so cozy for shrimp and crabs). Is there an ideal? I like natural looking tanks so is it mostly about aesthetics here?
Luckily, most air bubbles are not dangerous, and most tanks with sand beds, even with sugar-fine/oolitic sand, do fine. Purple stuff sounds like cyanobacteria.
4. How to handle the gross out factor with bristle worms. I mean, I know they're beneficial but... I've tried to find the beauty (mine have a little opalescence to them)... but Ek! Creepy! Additionally, it's hard to see how they do THAT much clean up since they have such a small range of motion. Mine just inch out a little bit around their home and haven't cleaned that rock of ANY detritus! LOL Can anyone relate?
Remember that bristle worms are also scared of you and to avoid "surprising" them by quickly lifting rocks or poking fingers in holes. Also, for every worm you see, there are dozens/hundreds of others that are unseen. Their greatest benefit is captive reproduction, allowing their populations to adapt to food availability. Also, most are nocturnal, so if you randomly turned on the lights at night, you would see many on your rocks and sand. Finally, while hitchhikers and the clean-up-crew may help, you are ultimately the most effective cleaner. Unfortunately for nano tanks, many extremely desirable detrivores like sea cucumbers or Ctenochaetus (bristletooth) tangs are too big to be kept.
5. What about other dreaded things like BLACKISH colored algae on rocks. What about yellow stuff covering a rock or bright orange stuff covering a rock? What colors are good/bad to look for? What about mucus-like clear stuff? If that always bad? If I take out a rock to scrub it off will I kill other things on it by scrubbing or exposing it to air? Do I have to scrub dark patches off? What about really dark green? Dang, there are a lot of colors happening in there. I'm pretty sure PURPLE is the only color I hear that's awesome to have. But then there's that reddish purple that I don't feel 100% about...
A picture is worth a thousand words when it comes to identifications. There are many photosynthetic things that can grow on rocks, including cyanobacteria, diatoms, dinoflagellates, and various "higher" algae (including the desirable coralline algae). Some are pests, but most algae blooms often are just symptoms of water quality issues. A general rule of thumb is to check if the growth is hard or easily scraped off. Here's a good guide to nuisance algae:http://www.nano-reef...howtopic=186736
Good luck, and consider making a new thread to continue the conversation!
Edited by lakshwadeep, 23 January 2012 - 09:14 PM.