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Jax04GT

Jax's BioCube16 - First Reef Tank!

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Jax04GT

Hello,

 

This is my first reef tank, I have had freshwater aquariums in the past but never dove into saltwater. I can say that just researching and picking out equipment for "my little piece of the ocean" has been exciting. I think about this tank more than I probably should while at work lol. I look forward to sharing my progress and hopefully getting all the help possible to make this a successful and fun adventure. I read through Cpl_Wiggles and Jackal227's tank threads as well as many others and thought I should share my experience as well.  The tank was setup on August 6th. I am just going to take it slow and not rush into anything. Up to this point I haven't used any filtration beside filter floss. I seeded the tank with some live rock rubble from my LFS (They were extremely helpful and even gave me the rubble). I started the cycle with the red sea reef mature cycling kit and after researching realized I shouldn't be using it with dry rock or without a protein skimmer. I stopped using it and just let the tank do its thing. I tested bi-weekly for ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates. When the tank started to show its first sign of algae I started my weekly 2g water changes. The first water change was on August 17th. I started reading 0 ammonia and nitrites yesterday the 26th. I was curious if you all would be able to identify the algae in the tank and also if I should start using my purigen and chemi-pure now of not? I believe it might be time for a small CUC but I wanted to get this thread going for tips and suggestions.

 

Tank: Biocube 16 gallon

Aquascape: Dry Rock from BRS

Sand: CaribSea Arag-Alive Fiji Pink

Salt: Red Sea Coral Pro Salt

Lighting: Stock LED's

Powerhead: Hydor Nano 240

Heater: 2x Cobalt Neo-Therm 75w Heater (Main set to 78 and backup at 76) in chamber one.

UV Sterilizer: Coralife (Not used unless needed)

Filtration: Seachem Purigen, Chemi-Pure Elite, Filter Floss

Tank Modifications:  Replaced media basket with the inTank media basket. Removed false bottom in chamber one. Replaced stock return pump with a Cobalt Mj1200. Added the Hydor rotating deflector. Tunze ATO with a 2.5g container.

 

Future Stock: ATM I believe I will just get a pair of clowns.

 

Day1

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Day 22

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MSunkin23

I really like this rock-scape especially the loop up top. Never heard of the Red Sea Reef kit, but looks like it could help get the cycle going.

 

Looking at the coloration on the rock you are getting close to livestock time.

 

Some free tips if your in the market:

1. You dont need to run the chemi-pure elite/purigen while cycling. May actually prolong the cycle. You can save it in a ziploc bag with RO water for when you start to add livestock. 

2. The algae is likely a result of your cycle working (nitrate production) and a good sign things are moving. Looks like diatoms and some hair algae on the live rock you introduced.

 - To this point, because you have some algae, you may be looking at adding a trochus snail or two in a bit to see how they do before adding fish (what I would do, but you could add fish first if you want)

3. Are you adding a nitrogen source such as Dr. Tims? Just curious what your nitrogen source is to start and test your cycle is working. reason I mention is that people add a nitrogen source at T=0 and then test after a certain amount of time to see if the cycle is processing ammonia.

4. You also diddnt mention nitrates, which likely could be accumulating at this point causing some of your algae growth. Typically folks dont perform water changes until cycle nears completion, at that point, you can do a 50% water change and remove a large fraction of nitrate and get the system ready for livestock introduction.

 

Really looking forward to see the updates here, your rock-scape is really awesome!! 

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Jax04GT
3 minutes ago, MSunkin23 said:

I really like this rock-scape especially the loop up top. Never heard of the Red Sea Reef kit, but looks like it could help get the cycle going.

 

Looking at the coloration on the rock you are getting close to livestock time.

 

Some free tips if your in the market:

1. You dont need to run the chemi-pure elite/purigen while cycling. May actually prolong the cycle. You can save it in a ziploc bag with RO water for when you start to add livestock. 

2. The algae is likely a result of your cycle working (nitrate production) and a good sign things are moving. Looks like diatoms and some hair algae on the live rock you introduced.

 - To this point, because you have some algae, you may be looking at adding a trochus snail or two in a bit to see how they do before adding fish (what I would do, but you could add fish first if you want)

3. Are you adding a nitrogen source such as Dr. Tims? Just curious what your nitrogen source is to start and test your cycle is working. reason I mention is that people add a nitrogen source at T=0 and then test after a certain amount of time to see if the cycle is processing ammonia.

4. You also diddnt mention nitrates, which likely could be accumulating at this point causing some of your algae growth. Typically folks dont perform water changes until cycle nears completion, at that point, you can do a 50% water change and remove a large fraction of nitrate and get the system ready for livestock introduction.

 

Really looking forward to see the updates her, your rock-scape is really awesome!! 

Thank you! I was epoxying the dry rock like a mad man until I finally settled. I probably could have spent a month trying to arrange the rock. 

 

1. Ok great that is what I thought but I had seen multiple camps on this. I haven't even opened the containers yet.  

2. Should I take any action on the hair algae? I did reach out to reef cleaners and they recommended the following: 10 Dwarf Ceriths, 3 Nassarius vibex, 4 Florida Ceriths, 4 Nerites. Should I wait for more algae growth before loading up on CUC members?

3. I was not using doctor tims but I was using the red sea nitro bac, i suspect this was the ammonia source. I believe I might have also experienced some die off from the live rock. I was reading somewhere in the ballpark of 1-2 ppm ammonia roughly 1-1 1/2 weeks in (I recently started a log book which I was not doing at first). It is difficult for me with the colors so I always get a second opinion from the wife. The red sea kit came with bacto start, nitro bac, n03:p04-x and kh coralline gro. I didn't use the coralline grow as my KH was good due to the coral pro salt.

4. My nitrates are currently at 20 ppm even after the water change friday. No signs of ammonia or nitrites. I should have tested the nitrates before the water change. 

 

Thanks for the response!

 

 

 
 

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MSunkin23

No worries, happy to see more people with the new Biocube 16, I think this is a really great AIO tank that is under-represented.

 

Up to you on the hair algae, its going to likely appear no matter what you do in a new tank. Just be careful not to overfeed and it will stay under control.

 

I personally never understand reef cleaners proposed setup, and can't recommend that to start off personally. I have 1x nassarius vibex snail in my tank and 2x trochus (as far as snails), and they do a sufficient job maintaining my algae (I feed lightly). Maybe others had a different experience but I believe that much CUC is overkill. The inevitable death of that much CUC could lead to more issues (my opinion). There is a thread on it somewhere that I firmly believe in, but again, just my opinion. When my tank was just getting setup (1-3mos) I battled algae left and right, which I do not believe a CUC would have helped with. I should have been more patient adding livestock and let my rock become established.

**I would allow others to chime in here, but I think 2 trochus snails and 2 nerite snails will get you really far in Biocube 16, as long as you aren't over-feeding the system. You could add one trochus snail from your LFS just to see how he does. If he dies, it will fuel your nitrogen cycle, but minimal risk to add 1 snail.

 

If I did it again,  would not purchase any hermit crabs. They are awesome, but more trouble than they are worth. They have knocked over countless corals and killed both of my nerite snails. 

 

For nitrate, you can back-calculate. For example, if you did a 50% water change and your post-change concentration was 20ppm, it was probably 40ppm pre-change (if that makes sense).

 

I think your on the right track taking it slow, lots of folks on here with good intel and advice.

 

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Jax04GT
48 minutes ago, MSunkin23 said:

No worries, happy to see more people with the new Biocube 16, I think this is a really great AIO tank that is under-represented.

 

Up to you on the hair algae, its going to likely appear no matter what you do in a new tank. Just be careful not to overfeed and it will stay under control.

 

I personally never understand reef cleaners proposed setup, and can't recommend that to start off personally. I have 1x nassarius vibex snail in my tank and 2x trochus (as far as snails), and they do a sufficient job maintaining my algae (I feed lightly). Maybe others had a different experience but I believe that much CUC is overkill. The inevitable death of that much CUC could lead to more issues (my opinion). There is a thread on it somewhere that I firmly believe in, but again, just my opinion. When my tank was just getting setup (1-3mos) I battled algae left and right, which I do not believe a CUC would have helped with. I should have been more patient adding livestock and let my rock become established.

**I would allow others to chime in here, but I think 2 trochus snails and 2 nerite snails will get you really far in Biocube 16, as long as you aren't over-feeding the system. You could add one trochus snail from your LFS just to see how he does. If he dies, it will fuel your nitrogen cycle, but minimal risk to add 1 snail.

 

If I did it again,  would not purchase any hermit crabs. They are awesome, but more trouble than they are worth. They have knocked over countless corals and killed both of my nerite snails. 

 

For nitrate, you can back-calculate. For example, if you did a 50% water change and your post-change concentration was 20ppm, it was probably 40ppm pre-change (if that makes sense).

 

I think your on the right track taking it slow, lots of folks on here with good intel and advice.

 

I agree so far I am very pleased with it (with my minimal experience). 

 

Got it I’m just going to keep my eye on the parameters and keep monitoring the growth. I will keep the feeding light once it’s stocked.

 

It did seem like a lot but like previously stated I don’t have the experience to say what’s a lot and what’s not. I am going to take your advice and just grab a snail or 3 and see how they fair. I don’t believe the water quality would be an issue but I would still rather not slaughter 20 snails due to a mistake. 

 

I do do really like the hermits but as you have said it seems a lot of people have the same issues with the hermits as you did. I don’t think I need anything making it more difficult than it already is lol. 

 

Thanks will def keep the pace slow I’m sure it pays off in the long run. Agreed, the amount of information is insane and very helpful. 

 

Will keep everyone updated!

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Jackal227

It looks like you are off to a good start.  As already stated you won't need a large CUC, at least not right away.  You can always add more if needed.  They all tend to eat different types of algae so having a mix of species is a good idea. 

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Wyatt45

I am close to cuc on my BC 16.  I will try a couple small hermits because I love the movement they provide.  

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Clown79

Welcome to nano

 

Sounds like you are cycled if you saw a rise and fall in ammonia. How high are your nitrates?

 

The algae is standard green and diatoms. Completely normal and not a big concern.

 

Many say running certain media impedes a cycle but I have run carbon in every single tank i have ever had, fresh and salt during cycling. It's never been an issue but certainly polished the water nicely.

 

You can add a small cuc. Don't go overboard because without the food source they will starve. Add as you need them.

 

I like nassarius and ceriths for the sandbed

Trochus and spiny stars for the glass and rocks. Astrea are good but can't right themselves when they tip over, leading to death.

 

I personally love hermits. I haven't had issues with them as they get enough food and have extra shells. I had more issues with pom pom crabs murdering snails and hermits than hermits.

 

Scarlet hermits are great and very docile. Entertaining too.

 

Tips

 

We often forget that sometimes when we see critters eating something, it may have already been dead, dying, or unwell- that's what animals do. They go after the weak.

That's hermits, crabs, snails, fish, bristleworms, asterina's etc etc.


 

Don't panic over every little thing

Don't make rash decisions

Do research on the advice given

 

Every system is different, you can be successful doing things differently.

 

All the best equipment in the world won't make it successful, patience, knowledge will.

 

Use good rodi or distilled water.

Don't chase ph

Alk is important 

Vacuum your sandbed and Turkey baste your rocks

Go slow

 

Have fun and enjoy

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Jax04GT
12 hours ago, Jackal227 said:

It looks like you are off to a good start.  As already stated you won't need a large CUC, at least not right away.  You can always add more if needed.  They all tend to eat different types of algae so having a mix of species is a good idea. 

Thanks for the tips your thread was a tremendous help for me, definitely going to start low and see how they do. I believe I will do as MSunkin23 recommended and grab a trochus, 2 nerites. I think I also want to throw a nassarius snail in.

12 hours ago, Wyatt45 said:

I am close to cuc on my BC 16.  I will try a couple small hermits because I love the movement they provide.  

Hey Wyatt,

 

I just got caught up on your thread and the tank is looking good. I was originally going to do the same as I think they look great, but I don't want them killing snails and messing with corals.

12 hours ago, Clown79 said:

Welcome to nano

 

Sounds like you are cycled if you saw a rise and fall in ammonia. How high are your nitrates?

 

The algae is standard green and diatoms. Completely normal and not a big concern.

 

Many say running certain media impedes a cycle but I have run carbon in every single tank i have ever had, fresh and salt during cycling. It's never been an issue but certainly polished the water nicely.

 

You can add a small cuc. Don't go overboard because without the food source they will starve. Add as you need them.

 

I like nassarius and ceriths for the sandbed

Trochus and spiny stars for the glass and rocks. Astrea are good but can't right themselves when they tip over, leading to death.

 

I personally love hermits. I haven't had issues with them as they get enough food and have extra shells. I had more issues with pom pom crabs murdering snails and hermits than hermits.

 

Scarlet hermits are great and very docile. Entertaining too.

 

Tips

 

We often forget that sometimes when we see critters eating something, it may have already been dead, dying, or unwell- that's what animals do. They go after the weak.

That's hermits, crabs, snails, fish, bristleworms, asterina's etc etc.


 

Don't panic over every little thing

Don't make rash decisions

Do research on the advice given

 

Every system is different, you can be successful doing things differently.

 

All the best equipment in the world won't make it successful, patience, knowledge will.

 

Use good rodi or distilled water.

Don't chase ph

Alk is important 

Vacuum your sandbed and Turkey baste your rocks

Go slow

 

Have fun and enjoy

My nitrates were at 20 ppm the day after a 2g water change.

 

I will start running my media a few days before the CUC goes in just to make sure no parameters go crazy.

 

Sound advice any recommendations on a longer turkey baster? My wife's is short and I try to keep my hands out as much as possible, plus I have a feeling I would be in trouble if she caught me.

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MSunkin23

Hi Jax,

 

I wanted to correct myself that I meant "Cerith Snail" not "Nerite Snail", but Nerite snails will also work. Clown is also correct that its opinion when to add chemical media. I think your gut is right that it will help keep parameters stable if you add it early. Additionally, my red hermit never caused trouble in my tank, it has been the blue and zebra hermits that are repeat offenders. 

 

Also one quick note - Be careful using household products that you also use for food/human use on your reef tank. I have a dedicated turkey baster I use. The reason being is that there are unknown toxins that you want to be careful not to expose yourself too.

Best of luck!

M

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Jax04GT
20 minutes ago, MSunkin23 said:

Hi Jax,

 

I wanted to correct myself that I meant "Cerith Snail" not "Nerite Snail", but Nerite snails will also work. Clown is also correct that its opinion when to add chemical media. I think your gut is right that it will help keep parameters stable if you add it early. Additionally, my red hermit never caused trouble in my tank, it has been the blue and zebra hermits that are repeat offenders. 

 

Also one quick note - Be careful using household products that you also use for food/human use on your reef tank. I have a dedicated turkey baster I use. The reason being is that there are unknown toxins that you want to be careful not to expose yourself too.

Best of luck!

M

From reading it seems cerith and nerites would both be good options. I guess it will just depend on what my LFS has in stock. Maybe I will grab a hermit in the future once I have a bio load.

 

Good to know. I haven't used it and will pick up another. How often do you guys blast the rock?

 

BTW I just got caught up on your tank and it looks awesome. Your clowns look great.

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Jax04GT

Tank Update

 

All of the parameters still look good and the algae seems to be healthy lol. I added purigen and chemi-pure elite yesterday in preparation for the CUC this weekend. I am going to do a 2g water change friday to see if I can get the nitrate's down a little seems to still be around 20 ppm. I will test again saturday morning before heading to the lfs. 

 

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I also began cleaning up the wires and trying to get the cables managed and labeled. Still sloppy but im getting there. Right now I have the primary heater, return pump, and the power head on battery backup. With the draw they are pulling I am looking at around an hour of run time during a power outage. I am not sure if I need the powerhead on battery if the return pump is on it? Power outages longer than 20 or 30 minutes are not common in my area but we did lose power for 3 days last winter. Wife doesn't know it yet but I believe I would like to have a generator for the essentials (the tank) which I will sell to her on the necessity of charging computers and phones. I also received the hydor wavemaker and 2 more nano powerheads from a friend. Would it be worthwhile to run two in the tank and have them alternate for more random flow? 

 

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Jackal227

Random flow is always good.  If you have the wavemaker and two pumps then I'd use them.

 

Also keep in mind that a 2 gallon water change won't affect your nitrates much.  If you are at 20 now and you do a 50% water change it'll bring you down to 10 nitrates. 

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Jax04GT
12 hours ago, Jackal227 said:

Random flow is always good.  If you have the wavemaker and two pumps then I'd use them.

 

Also keep in mind that a 2 gallon water change won't affect your nitrates much.  If you are at 20 now and you do a 50% water change it'll bring you down to 10 nitrates. 

Got it would you recommend a larger water change?.

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MSunkin23

^ I would do a 50% like Jakal mentioned. 

 

An additional note. My first water change post-cycle was 50%, after that I was doing 20% weekly until my tank became established. This approach worked well for me. After ~4-5months I moved to 20% water change bi-weekly and works great for me.

 

M

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Daniel91

If you do not have any livestock yet, why not replace all the water? Your bio filter will be in the rocks/(sand), so replacing all the water will just help you lower the nitrates even more ūüėČ

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banasophia
1 hour ago, Daniel91 said:

If you do not have any livestock yet, why not replace all the water? Your bio filter will be in the rocks/(sand), so replacing all the water will just help you lower the nitrates even more ūüėČ

So...I’m not really sure if this applies to your tank, Jax, but I’ve been thinking about this concept lately... I’m thinking that when people have added bottled beneficial bacteria like BioSpira, or Nutri-Seawater, to speed up their cycle, the beneficial bacteria may still be largely in the water column but parameters may show the tank is cycled early on. If they then do a huge water change and remove a large portion of the beneficial bacteria and then add their livestock, they may not have enough beneficial bacteria left behind/built up in their rock (and matrix) yet to be able to handle the bioload they add in. I don’t think nitrates of 20 are a big concern... but when people have really high nitrates and really need to do a huge water change in such a situation, I’m thinking they should then add in more beneficial bacteria. Just a thought related to guidance I see sometimes about 100% water changes at the end of a cycle.

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Daniel91
14 minutes ago, banasophia said:

So...I’m not really sure if this applies to your tank, Jax, but I’ve been thinking about this concept lately... I’m thinking that when people have added bottled beneficial bacteria like BioSpira, or Nutri-Seawater, to speed up their cycle, the beneficial bacteria may still be largely in the water column but parameters may show the tank is cycled early on. If they then do a huge water change and remove a large portion of the beneficial bacteria and then add their livestock, they may not have enough beneficial bacteria left behind/built up in their rock (and matrix) yet to be able to handle the bioload they add in. I don’t think nitrates of 20 are a big concern... but when people have really high nitrates and really need to do a huge water change in such a situation, I’m thinking they should then add in more beneficial bacteria. Just a thought related to guidance I see sometimes about 100% water changes at the end of a cycle.

I can see where you are headed with this. Either way, I would check parameters after any size waterchange and before adding livestock. Rather safe than sorry.

 

As a side note, I just read your first post again and for some reason skipped the part that a waterchange was already done on this tank prior. With this in mind, disregard my previous comment and stick with a regular waterchange. 

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Jax04GT

Just wanted to update, it has been crazy around the house and I hadn't had time to get on. I did pick up 5 astrea snails from my lfs. It was all they had in stock so I also ordered 3 cerith snails. I will say I am pretty impressed with the work the astreas have put in so far. I also had some algae that I believed were diatoms on my sandbed start looking a little suspect and from what I have gathered it might be dino? Can anyone confirm or deny this? I also went ahead and added the second powerhead and plugged them into the wavemaker. I currently have it set to alternate every 30 minutes. Any recommendations on timing with them? I will say if set to seconds the powerheads going off and on is very annoying lol.

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Jax04GT
On 8/30/2018 at 11:16 AM, MSunkin23 said:

^ I would do a 50% like Jakal mentioned. 

 

An additional note. My first water change post-cycle was 50%, after that I was doing 20% weekly until my tank became established. This approach worked well for me. After ~4-5months I moved to 20% water change bi-weekly and works great for me.

 

M

So far I have been sticking with 2g water changes but I like the eventual idea of bi-weekly although I honestly enjoy the tank maintenance part.

On 8/30/2018 at 1:26 PM, banasophia said:

So...I’m not really sure if this applies to your tank, Jax, but I’ve been thinking about this concept lately... I’m thinking that when people have added bottled beneficial bacteria like BioSpira, or Nutri-Seawater, to speed up their cycle, the beneficial bacteria may still be largely in the water column but parameters may show the tank is cycled early on. If they then do a huge water change and remove a large portion of the beneficial bacteria and then add their livestock, they may not have enough beneficial bacteria left behind/built up in their rock (and matrix) yet to be able to handle the bioload they add in. I don’t think nitrates of 20 are a big concern... but when people have really high nitrates and really need to do a huge water change in such a situation, I’m thinking they should then add in more beneficial bacteria. Just a thought related to guidance I see sometimes about 100% water changes at the end of a cycle.

That makes sense to me. I haven't done any changes larger than 3g. So far I have done 2 2g changes and one 3g. My nitrates are right around 10ppm. 

On 8/30/2018 at 1:45 PM, Daniel91 said:

I can see where you are headed with this. Either way, I would check parameters after any size waterchange and before adding livestock. Rather safe than sorry.

 

As a side note, I just read your first post again and for some reason skipped the part that a waterchange was already done on this tank prior. With this in mind, disregard my previous comment and stick with a regular waterchange. 

Yes i'm starting to see that testing parameters and keeping a close watch on them is going to be the biggest tool for success. ūüôā

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MSunkin23

Unfortunately that looks like dinoflagellates. I dont know how common it is to see that during a tank start-up/cycle. There must be a nutrient source someplace for that kind of growth. I would do some research and figure out how to get that under control before proceeding to add more livestock. 

 

I did have a dino outbreak after adding livestock and used vibrant reef and eradicated it in 2-weeks. Never came back (knock on wood). Considering how early you are, I would step back and think about either hitting the reset button or waiting to see if they die off.

 

Curious what others think...

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Jax04GT
38 minutes ago, MSunkin23 said:

Unfortunately that looks like dinoflagellates. I dont know how common it is to see that during a tank start-up/cycle. There must be a nutrient source someplace for that kind of growth. I would do some research and figure out how to get that under control before proceeding to add more livestock. 

 

I did have a dino outbreak after adding livestock and used vibrant reef and eradicated it in 2-weeks. Never came back (knock on wood). Considering how early you are, I would step back and think about either hitting the reset button or waiting to see if they die off.

 

Curious what others think...

Hmm what are some things that can cause that? I haven’t used anything but distilled water and tds has always been 0. I noticed it before I got the snails but didnt think anything of it. I'm really in no hurry so I kind of want to fight it.

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Jackal227

It's tough to diagnose without a microscope.  But it looks like Diatoms with some hair algae mixed in to me.  The Diatoms will fade on their own in a few weeks once all of the silicates are gone.  

 

Are you running your lights? If you don't have any corals you can leave your lights off and the algae should fade as well. 

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Jax04GT
22 minutes ago, Jackal227 said:

It's tough to diagnose without a microscope.  But it looks like Diatoms with some hair algae mixed in to me.  The Diatoms will fade on their own in a few weeks once all of the silicates are gone.  

 

Are you running your lights? If you don't have any corals you can leave your lights off and the algae should fade as well. 

If I were to purchase a microscope would I need anything special to take pictures? I dont know alot about them but this one looks decent.

 

https://www.amazon.com/AmScope-B120B-Magnification-Illumination-Double-Layer/dp/B009JPXTNW/ref=redir_mobile_desktop?_encoding=UTF8&dpID=51nal-Oml4L&dpPl=1&keywords=amscope b120b&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_QL65&qid=1496583674&ref=plSrch&ref_=mp_s_a_1_1&sr=8-1

 

Yes I have been. I already shut them off, going to kill them for 3-4 days and see what that does. Will this hurt the snails? 

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Jackal227

 The snails don't need light they will be fine.  

 

Try this for identifying: 

Without microscope

 

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