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I cant tell where I'm at in my cycle


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I have a 34 gal. Red Sea Max that is in it's second week of cycling.

I started it with 32 lb. of cured live rock (LFS said it had been curing in tanks for 9 months) and 30 lb of live sand. Got water from LFS.

So I've had lots of critters for awhile now. Amphipods, copepods, feather dusters,Pineapple sponges and even a hitch hicker snail!

Since I've started my water parameters have been:

Salinity 1.024




Nitrates=started at 0 but have been increasing. Now at 20 ppm. I am also starting to get the brown algae on the substrate and sides of the tank.


I've not had any ammonia or nitrites since I started. Obviously, the tank is thriving with critters. I see some of the amphipods carcasses floating around so I know I have a life cycle going on.


Can anyone advise me as to where I'm at in the cycle?? I've been keeping the lights off most of the time and the protein skimmer has been off. Am I going to get the "ammonia spike"? Shouldn't it have happened by now?

Thanks for any help!

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Start doing a regular water change schedule of maybe 10-20% weekly (smaller but more often water changes are preferable). Since the rock was cured, you probably didn't have an ammonia or nitrite spike. The nitrates are rising because there sadly is usually never enough anaerobic (needing low oxygenated areas) bacteria to consume all the nitrate produced (the ammonia and nitrite converting bacteria are aerobic/oxygen-using and have a healthy population).


You could always wait a little longer, but starting to add a CUC (clean up crew) would be helpful in stemming any unwanted algae growth. Also, please check in the ID forum if your hitchhiker snail may be unwanted. Remember to slowly add livestock; carnivorous fish should be last so that your pod population can grow and provide a natural food source (you'll still have to feed, though).

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What would you recommend as a clean up crew? I'm planning on fish only (for now)

I didn't plan on any livestock for at least a month or more because all I've heard is "go slow, let it grow". So that is what I'm trying to do.

I've noticed that some people on this site seem to have put fish in rather quickly (like in the first week or two).

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What would you recommend as a clean up crew? I'm planning on fish only (for now)

I didn't plan on any livestock for at least a month or more because all I've heard is "go slow, let it grow". So that is what I'm trying to do.

I've noticed that some people on this site seem to have put fish in rather quickly (like in the first week or two).


There's the age-old debate about just snails or snails and hermit crabs. I have two dwarf red leg hermit crabs that are too small to kill any snail (which hermits will likely do to get a new shell). However, hermits are really good at eating turf algae. The scarlet hermit is pretty popular. Cerith, Nassarius, Trochus, Astraea, Turbo, and Nerite snails are all good choices. Go to http://reefscavengers.com/ and click on inverts on the left side; there you'll see the snail's I've listed and you can click on them for information.

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Also, you're acting like a experienced reefer already by going slowly! ;) Here is a link on "nano-fish" that you could choose: http://www.liveaquaria.com/product/scateg.cfm?pCatId=2124 note that many online stores may have misleading info on their livestock, but liveaquaria.com is pretty reliable. Also, go to http://www.wetwebmedia.com for a lot of previously answered FAQs and articles.

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hazmat thanks for the post and lakshwadeep for the answers! I was about to ask the same question. I am going through exactly the same thing, my 29g Bio will be 2 weeks old on Saturday. I didn't check for nitrate because I was waiting for the amonia and nitrite to spike and like you all I read here is go slow. The lfs said I wouldn't see amonia or nitrite and when I started checking for nitrate it was 20 and dropped to 10. The lfs store said I could add fish almost immediately because I was using their water, rock and sand.

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The hard part is every person has a different opinion. I've joined several forums and have received quite a bit of varied information.


I have to admit that this forum seems to be on the ball. Many other forums do not seem to delve too much into the all in one systems. Or the smaller size tanks. So at least I've found the right forum for the type of tank I have!!


My LFS told me I could possibly start putting in livestock in 10 days. I didn't really believe him since everyone stresses it takes months to cycle a tank. I also bought the high dollar cured LR, sand and water from the store. I have tons of life in my tank. Like I said in my thread....I keep waiting for some ammonia but so far nothing!...nada....


I have some aptasia on my rock and the brown algae is a bloomin' so this weekend I might pick up some snails and possibly a peppermint shrimp (only thing is I dont want him eating my feather dusters so I might just get some Joe's Juice)


Anyway, I really don't want to rush things but maybe my tank is ready for something. I was thinking of two really small ocellaris clowns. I would hate it if they did not survive!


What is your plan johnny??

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I would wait on the fish for just a few more weeks, there is no reason to have them die. Using fully curred rock is a trade off. Most won't see any ammonia with it, but it is nice to have hitchikers. If you want to test the waters, put a raw coctail shrimp in the tank. It will introduce some ammonia to the water and allow the bacteria in your rock to break it down. You should then fully see your cycle if you are going to have one.


I would start to run the lighting for a few hours a day. It will push you through your algae cycle. At the tail end of that you can add a few snails and some hermits, stay away from the red legged. I have the common brown ones and lots of smaller blue legged hermits. They are pretty peaceful and leave the snails alone.


You should take care of the aptasia now. Use a syringe and shoot it with really hot water. Or try lemon juice. If that doesn't work, it should, you can go with the joe's juice.

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You're welcome.


I'm not old enough to be called Mr. yet


Looking foward to seeing pics of your tank.

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if you are seeing nitrates then you already had ammonia and nitrites, can't have nitrates without first having ammonia and nitrites. adding a dead shrimp will just create lots of bad algea and possbile cyno...I would strongly advice against doing that. If you don't have ammonia or nitrites then yeah you could add a small part of your cuc, but only if you feel that the algea is getting bad otherwise wait. If nitrates keep climbing, then do a very small water changes otherwise wait the full 4 weeks. a pep shrimp will take care of the aiptasia but you can wait to add it when things are more stable. The pep shrimp work really well but only if you do not feeding the tank. Aiptaisa happen to most people and most people will agree that zapping them with cirtus juice (while in your tank) can often cause them to spread. I had a lot in my tank and my pep shirmp got them all but one huge one I had.

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Hazmat after reading the responses which are very helpful I may do a water change and the pick up a few members of my CUC as suggested by rhunter and monitor levels closely. my nitrate was 20 a week ago but has been 5-10 (color is the same on my test chart?) since. I ran my lights the first week and cut back this week and have hair(?) algae on 50-70% of the rock and about 1/4 of the glass and probably wait another week for a shrimp, still trying to decide between the Skunk or Peppermint. I'm going to try to start a thread for my tank this weekend.

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Thanks for everyone's response! You guys rock.


Johnny, sounds like we are at the exact same point in our setup. Since we started close to the same time and with the same LR, LS and water from the store.


I also have the "hair" algae that is growing on the substrate and on the sides of the tank. It looks like major razor stubble on the glass :lol:


I tested my water today and it seems my nitrates are down a bit. Was up to 20 and today it seems more like between 10-15. I think that is because of the algae. Someone correct me if I'm wrong on that.


So I think I will go ahead this weekend and get a few snails and a blue leg hermit like Steve suggested and see how that goes. I've been keeping the lights off except when I check out the tank and the skimmer has been off. So now I will put the lights on the timer.


Please keep me updated on your progress and what is working for you!!

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blue leg hermits will kill snails often...go with scarlet reef (red leg) hermits. Get a pepermint shrimp for aiptasia - be sure it is a pep shrimp.

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This thread was very helpful. I am at the same point as you all as well.


2 and a half week old:


29 Gal BioCube

25-27lbs live rock


Pre mixed saltwater

1 Hitchhiker snail

1 Hitchhiker Blue leg Hermit

8 aiptasias growing

Some hair algea

clown fish - Doing great by the way

and lots of other tiny creatures


I have not seen anything spike yet either. I'm ready to get the Pep before more aipstasia starts popping up.


In regards to that - What is the best way to tell the difference between a REAL pep and the imposter???

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Sounds good, you probably have really good live rock and will not see a "cycle". You don't need to, it not a given. Keep a very close eye on your params, two weeks is a bit soon to add fish. Add new stuff very slowly. Add the pep shrimp now but then wait until the tank is 4 weeks old before adding anything else. In that time head over to reef central dot com and read up on reef chemistry esp about ionic balance - alk and ca balance - that is critical for a sucessful reef.


As for the pep shrimp, just google them. They look I a lot like camel shrimp. You might try to target feed your clown. If the pep shrimp gets fed when the clown gets fed, the pep may not eat the aiptaisa. If you've done fw fish, it's like getting a siamensis then watching it never feed on hair algea because it gets fed fish food so often. I have a fat siamensis right now in my 29g planted tank that never touches my hair algea...he's now the dominent fish in the tank.

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Here are some pics of the tank! Hope this works....


In the beginning:


and then:


Here is a hitchhiker, hopefully a Nerite


This feather duster is really cool but didnt photo well


And here we are today:


Any thoughts or ideas??

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Ha! Can you remember when yours was like that! It looks clean but the algae is growing like crazy! It looks like a forest growing on the substrate. I like my original aquascape better but there was too much rock leaning against the back so I rearranged it. It's OK. But I can get to the back glass much better now. I have quite a few caves and tunnels so the fish will like it


I just injected all the aptasia with lemon juice so we will see what happends. It's creepy the way they pull back into the rock holes. Some of them were really hard to get to. I had to bend the needle to get into them.


Brad also drilled the holes in the top if the skimmer cup. Off tomorrow to get more supplies!


Thanks again for all your help!

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Just addes a limited clean up crew.


3 Turbos and 5 red leg hermits (red is all they had). They are going to town in the tank. Hopefully they will work OT because the algae is growing like weeds....ha


Hopefully after spring break we can introduce 1 fish.

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Hermits are great! Gave me something to look at after my cycle got finished. They went on strike after a couple of days though so I made an example out of the biggest one, put it on a dirt pile and cracked the whip. Now their cleaning like it aint nothin.

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OK, that went over my head.....you "did away" with him?? Or are you JK???


It's amazing how just adding something to your tank is exciting! I obviously have no life......

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