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My experience- quick cycle- Biocube 29 G


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#1
Watson315

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This forum was really helpful in setting up my saltwater tank. This is my first attempt at saltwater, and though I've done a freshwater aquarium before, I wouldn't consider myself very experienced.

I have a new Biocube 29:

-upgraded water pump to a RIO HF 6
-Removed blue sponge
-Stuffed filter floss into the top overflow from chamber two to chamber three
-Opened up the overflow from chamber one to chamber two
-50 Watt heater in chamber one
-DIY media rack in chamber two with filter floss, purigen, and chemi pure; I might add cheato later on if nitrates become a problem- the new biocube has a clear window to let in light
-Added the Aquaticlife 115 skimmer in chamber two next to the media rack
-Added a Hydor Coralia evolution 425 powerhead

The skimmer works well, but as I understand it all skimmers are tempermental. It produces a yellow/brown fluid in the cup, so I guess it's doing it's job. Takes a few days to get going.

So here's my experience:

Day 1- added tap water, appropriate quantities of salt and live sand to the tank

At this point I didn't even dechlorinate my water, and I'm on a municipality. I'm sure people are going to say I wasted money on live sand to kill it with chlorinated water, but my cycle went so quick I would beg to differ.

Day 3- Added 35 lbs of live rock, adjusted salinity, pH, added tap water conditioner, and tested for ammonia, nitrite and nitrates

I seemed to have low level ammonia, nitrites and nitrates from the very beginning; 0.25-0.50 ppm and around 5-10 ppm for nitrates.

I purchased the live rock from Petco, Fiji premium on sale, and its good stuff, tons of little nooks and crannies. 2 day shipping. I also got about 1 pound of live rock from my local LFS, to help seed the tank

Day 5- No changes with ammonia or anything else. Added the first Aquabella saltwater treatement.

Day 6- Added second Aquabella treatement. Ammonia up to 1-1.5 ppm. Added a little fish food.

Day 7- More aquabella and more fish food. Ammonia is down to 0.25-0.50 ppm. Nitrites are up to 1-1.5 ppm.

Day 8- More Aquabella and more fish food. Nitries are 3-4 ppm. Ammonia down to 0.25 ppm.

Day 9- Added last Aquabella treatment until the 90 day dose. Stopped adding fish food. Ammonia 0.25 ppm. Nitrites 3-4 ppm still.

Day 10- This afternoon the nitrates dropped to around 1 ppm, and the ammonia is getting closer to 0 ppm.

Day 11- Nitrites about 0.50 ppm. and are dropping rapidly. Nitrates at 15-20 ppm. Did a 10% water change. Added 10 of the dwarf hermit crabs and a turbo snail.

Day 12- Nitrites below 0.25 ppm and ammonia very close to zero. Nitrates at 10-15 ppm.

Day 13- Brown algae (diatom) bloom!!! And I even noticed a little green hair algae starting to grow. Added two small clown fish.

Day 14- Nitrites and ammonia very close to zero, nitrates at 10-15 ppm.

Day 15- Added two small radioactive zoas on a plug, two small eagle eye zoas, and a tiny little colony of xenia; all bought for $10, and I get to watch them grow!

Day 16- Added another turbo snail, a small (3 1/2 inch) red/orange star fish, and a small colony of green star polyps.

Day 17- Today, everything is still doing very well, fish are hungry and eat well, snails and starfish roaming around eating things up, and the coral all looks good.

I noticed a few little arm like things coming out of a tiny little hole in one of my rocks today. I saw three skinny tentacles with little hair like things sticking off them, maybe an inch long, and sort of has a black and white stripes on the arms. I can't see what's inside the rock or what these appendages may be attached too. Very exciting! Anyone have any ideas? I hope it's not bad.

I'll post some pictures soon.

I ordered a 50 watt LED upgrade I'll be hooking up in the next few weeks too.

Thanks for looking,
Brett

#2
seabass

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Day 1- added tap water, appropriate quantities of salt and live sand to the tank

There is no reason not to dechlorinate the water. In addition, tap water contains a lot of impurities (get a TDS meter and test it if you don't believe me). These impurities will accumulate with every top off. You should immediately switch to distilled or RO/DI water.

Day 6- Added second Aquabella treatement. Ammonia up to 1-1.5 ppm. Added a little fish food.

I wouldn't feed at this point.

Day 11- Nitrites about 0.50 ppm. and are dropping rapidly. Nitrates at 15-20 ppm. Did a 10% water change. Added 10 of the dwarf hermit crabs and a turbo snail.

A little too soon for livestock.

Day 12- Nitrites below 0.25 ppm and ammonia very close to zero. Nitrates at 10-15 ppm.

Day 13- Brown algae (diatom) bloom!!! And I even noticed a little green hair algae starting to grow. Added two small clown fish.

You should probably slow down. The cycle isn't fully established yet.

Day 14- Nitrites and ammonia very close to zero, nitrates at 10-15 ppm.

Looks like your cycles is finally becoming established. Your tank should be ready for a cleanup crew in about a week.

Day 16- Added another turbo snail, a small (3 1/2 inch) red/orange star fish, and a small colony of green star polyps.

I'd take the starfish back if you can. Your tank size and age isn't suitable for one of these.

Day 17- Today, everything is still doing very well, fish are hungry and eat well, snails and starfish roaming around eating things up, and the coral all looks good.

I noticed a few little arm like things coming out of a tiny little hole in one of my rocks today. I saw three skinny tentacles with little hair like things sticking off them, maybe an inch long, and sort of has a black and white stripes on the arms. I can't see what's inside the rock or what these appendages may be attached too. Very exciting! Anyone have any ideas? I hope it's not bad.

These are hitchhiker micro brittle starfish. They are hardy and beneficial. :)


I'm glad that you are excited, but you should become more patient. Most of what was done won't have long term effects, but you need a new water source (and you should give back the large starfish).

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#3
Watson315

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I really appreciate your quick reply, Seabass.

So on day 13 its too early to add livestock, but on day 14 my tank "finally becoming established"? I'd say a week and a half after adding live rock was pretty quick, and I don't think its something that happens overnight.

I forgot to mention that I switched to the RO water that you can get cheap at walmart for topoff and water changes. I had my water tested at the LFS and they said its great. Alkalinity 12, calcium 400 ppm, nitrates, nitrites and ammonia "perfect". I'm not saying you shouldn't dechlorinate your tap water; I was simply relaying my experience incase it helps someone else.

I wasn't really looking for advice on things I already did. The fish are doing great, so I don't know why you're saying it was too soon to add them. Nitrites being 0.50 ppm? Well its 0 now, and the fish never had a problem. Maybe too early for your liking, but this is an inexact science. I also forgot to mention I did another 10% water change before I added the fish on day 13, and a third 10% change with RO water on day 16 when I added the starfish.


Without even knowing what kind of starfish it is, why would you say a 3 inch starfishis too big for a 30 gallon tank?

#4
majtek862

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I would listen to seabass when he's telling you to slow down. Best advise ever given in establishing a reef! Otherwise, you might as well flush your money down the toilet. Better yet, just give it to me. My tank is almost three years old and it took me that long to figure it out. If that's even possible. Good luck!

BTW, quick cycle my arse... :haha: Your tank will cycle many times over for different reasons.

Edited by majtek862, 16 March 2012 - 10:17 AM.


#5
seabass

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I really appreciate your quick reply, Seabass.

:) Hope it helps. This probably won't be the last saltwater tank you start.

So on day 13 its too early to add livestock, but on day 14 my tank "finally becoming established"?

Yep. If you can detect any ammonia, you shouldn't be thinking about adding livestock. However, the ammonia level going down indicates that it is "becoming" established. I'd recommend waiting a week after you can no longer detect ammonia before adding livestock. This gives the bacteria populations time to become established and stabilize.

I forgot to mention that I switched to the RO water that you can get cheap at walmart for topoff and water changes.

Consider Walmart's distilled water (pink cap). Their RO water is not run through a DI resin and isn't as pure as distilled.

I wasn't really looking for advice on things I already did. The fish are doing great, so I don't know why you're saying it was too soon to add them.

No but these are learning forums and it can be helpful to others to point out proven methods. And as I stated, there shouldn't be any real negative long term effects. I stated it was too soon due to detectable ammonia and nitrite. Also, it's good to allow additional time for stabilization.

Without even knowing what kind of starfish it is, why would you say a 3 inch starfishis too big for a 30 gallon tank?

Because it doesn't sound like a brittle starfish (which is a hardy variety). I'm guessing it might be something like a Fromia, Echinaster, or Linckia.

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#6
Watson315

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I understand the need to be patient, and I'm sure I still have a lot to learn, but to throw around one's opinions as fact, when you weren't even asked, seems a bit presumptive to me. I've spent under 50 total on everything, not counting the two clown fish, so I'm not breaking the bank.

I do agree completely on the likely identity of the little arms coming out of the rock. A brittle star was my guess, but I didn't know they could be that small, or survive shipping the live rock.

#7
majtek862

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Just trying to save you some heartache, money and lives! No need to get all defensive...The fact that you posted this in a public forum means you asked everyone!

Edited by majtek862, 16 March 2012 - 11:09 AM.


#8
Watson315

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No, it probably won't be the last I set up.

Thanks for verifying my guess on the arms.



Majtek- I posted to share my experiences.

I asked one question, just one. And thats all of was looking for, aside from possibly showing new aquariists that there isn't only one right way.

It was anwsered at the end, and I thanked seebass for the anwser.

#9
majtek862

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I'm glad you found the answer! That's most important... Good luck with your reef!

#10
colbertbr

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I understand the need to be patient, and I'm sure I still have a lot to learn, but to throw around one's opinions as fact, when you weren't even asked, seems a bit presumptive to me. I've spent under 50 total on everything, not counting the two clown fish, so I'm not breaking the bank.

I do agree completely on the likely identity of the little arms coming out of the rock. A brittle star was my guess, but I didn't know they could be that small, or survive shipping the live rock.


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#11
Chrisl1976

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I think mother nature has decided to let small tank cycle faster. :P

My JBJ28 cycle in 8 days. Day 8 into my AM went to zero, PH from 7.8 to 8.2, NITs and NAT's were zero 2 days later. Everything holding steady at 8.2 and zero's. I'm on day 20 now with zero levels across the board.

Threw a couple hermits in there to help with the algae. Need to order CUC from Reefcleaner.org. Fish will be added tomorrow.

FYI: Tomorrow is my new name for day 36-40 when an average cycle would end. I know mother nature can be a nasty biitch sometimes and all I need to find is she plays a nasty April fools joke on me.

Edited by Chrisl1976, 16 March 2012 - 11:40 AM.

Just a JBJ 28CF on its way to looking wonderful.


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#12
TheKleinReef

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i agree cycles are crazy unpredictable. mine didn't even cycle at all. i had a small diatom blooms for about a week. and i never had ammonia, nitrate, or high nitrates. it was weird. but hey it worked.

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#13
Watson315

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You have nothing better to do with yourself?

Thats kind of sad...

#14
Watson315

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BTW, quick cycle my arse... :haha: Your tank will cycle many times over for different reasons.
[/quote]

Well, from what I read it can take a month or two, so yeah, a diatom bloom 10 days after adding live rock seemed pretty quick to me. Does this mean the tank won't have a mini cycle with new livestock added, no of course it doesn't. But you're really just muddying the water, because I'm talking about the initial cycle. Any tank at anytime could got into a new cycle, from what I understand, but thats not relevant to the discussion of an initial cycle.

I wanted to add my experiences for people looking for information, as the site was helpful to me. I'm surprised with some of the rude, irrelevant responses, but I guess some people have too much time on their hands.

#15
colbertbr

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You have nothing better to do with yourself?

Thats kind of sad...


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#16
Watson315

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Yep. If you can detect any ammonia, you shouldn't be thinking about adding livestock. However, the ammonia level going down indicates that it is "becoming" established. I'd recommend waiting a week after you can no longer detect ammonia before adding livestock. This gives the bacteria populations time to become established and stabilize.

I stated it was too soon due to detectable ammonia and nitrite.


Really what you're talking about here Seabass, at least for most people with a basic test kit, is discerning the difference in shades of green. I think it's definitely easier with the nitrite, but the ammonia is already a yellow green even at zero.

And technically, the level is never actually zero. Maybe it's too small for the kit to detect, but you're always going to have minor fluctuations in the ballance between ammonia eating bacteria and the level of ammonia. Yes, maybe the balance improves with time, but I'm not even really sure that's true, as people have problems with mini cycles even in established tanks.

I went to my local LFS and was asking about buffer products and keeping my pH where I want it, and it was an intelligent, experienced guy mind you, and he asked me what my ammonia level was. I began to reply that it was zero, as it was as close to the zero indicator as I could decipher, and he looked at me like I had four heads. He told me the ammonia level is never really zero, but that it should be very low. And it makes a lot more sense to me than what a lot of people on here claim, which is that it should be "zero". Ammonia is constantly being produced by livestock, and the level is naturally going to fluctuate. It may be zero at times, but that just tells you that some of your bacteria are dying off, because there's not enough food for them.

Zero on ammonia is like an abstract concept, not a reality. The same is probably true of nitrites, given the reasoning, but I think the difference between sky blue and purple is much easier do determine on the test. It's probably not actually zero, but again a limitation of the test. The levels are very low.

And I didn't add the fish until there weren't any nitrites. The hermit crabs and snail certainly didn't seem to mind a low, and dropping fast, level of nitrites.

I'll let you know how the starfish, and the rest of the gang are doing in a few months, and post some pictures.

I'm not telling anyone what they should do. I think as other people have said, there can be quite a bit of variation in how a tank cycles. Maybe the smaller tanks do cycle faster, I don't know. I've been keeping a very close eye on things, and mean to continue too. The tank is on my kitchen counter.

#17
seabass

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Sorry if you felt like I was picking on you. I figured that since this was your first marine setup, I'd take some time and pass along some (normally non-controversial) information to you and the others following along.

While I didn't refer to a "zero" ammonia level in my previous posts on this thread, I don't entirely agree with the LFS employee that you spoke with. Our tanks do constantly produce ammonia (and therefore would never be at an absolute zero); however, they should be able to process it just about as fast as it is introduced. I would expect that most people, with established reef tanks, would answer that ammonia is undetectable (which would be zero on most test kits).

Here are some pictures that I took, during some testing that I performed awhile back, that support this idea. These tests show that my reef tank sample had a lower ammonia level (basically undetectable) than the test, control, and water change samples.

API tests:
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Seachem tests:
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The API ammonia tests aren't as sensitive as the Seachem ammonia sensors.

Oops, sorry, I forgot...

:welcome: to Nano-Reef.com!
I wish you the best of luck.

Edited by seabass, 17 March 2012 - 06:39 AM.

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#18
Watson315

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I do appreciate your input Seabass, though I wasn't exactly looking for a step by step critique. My way has worked for me so far. I was debating between walmarts distilled or RO water. I'll go with distilled.

I think it is a Linckia star, and from everything I've read they get to about 5 inches and are pretty good reef inhabitants. Do you disagree?

Your ammonia test colors appear a little easier to discern than mine. I even thought I had 15-20 ppm of nitrates, but when tested at the LFS the guy said it was close to zero, and that I may have not been shaking it up enough after adding the first test bottle, and I didn't get the sea star until he told me my numbers were perfect.

I know my tank will continue to mature for a long time, but I have no plans to overstock with fish, and I thought I could keep the linckia star happy.

#19
seabass

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Yeah, I agree, color matching test results can be difficult to determine accurately.


While Linckia Starfish should be reef safe, their survival rate (especially in nanos, and in new tanks where micro-fauna hasn't had a chance to become established) is typically low. I believe it is due to their diet (likely the micro-fauna found on live rock, sand, and aquarium glass; however, there is a lot that we still don't know about their feeding habits).

Here are a couple of resources about Linckia Starfish that you might want to check out:

http://www.advanceda.../2002/5/inverts
http://www.wetwebmed...linckiafaqs.htm
http://www.wetwebmed...s.htm?h=linckia (part 1 of 4, plus other related links)

Not all livestock for the trade is equally hardy. Some have specific dietary needs or are much more sensitive to parameter changes (or even air).

Edited by seabass, 17 March 2012 - 09:04 AM.

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