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Redreidy

Hello, I'm new, and need some wise advice.

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Redreidy

Hi,

 

I hope you don't mind me posting here I am looking for some sound advice. Quick background, usual story, used to be an expereinced freshwater keeper moved house, always wanted to keep salt, have a baby on the way but regardless decided to give it a go. Long story short to keep costs down I have gone for a smaller tank, despite everything I have read about it being harder etc. I have made a start but, the advice on the wider internet/youtube seems to be so diverse I decide maybe speaking to people would be a more sound way to progress. I have engaged my local fish store, who are relatively well stocked, but don't seem all that knowledgable (seem to just want to sell things). 

 

So what I have managed so far...... First off I bought a 60 litre (13.19 imperial gal, 15.85 US Gal) tank made by Tetra. This wasn't my first option but I have a cat who is an avid predator and this model offered the most robust lid for my price point. The tank came with an internal filter which found a new home, a T5 bulb and a basic heater. The heater and the light are currently being utilised in the tank. Acquisitions made so far include two large pieces of Dry rock with funky purple colouration, Red Sea Coral Live Sand and an All Pond Solutions 1000EF Aquarium External Filter. I know some people don't like canisters but I have essentially stuffed it full of Bio Balls at the moment and a single layer of fine filter floss. My thinking behind this is to add a tiny bit of mechanical filtration and a lot more biological filtration. I do have some Chemipure blue that I may add into the canister at a later date. I will be conducting maintenance on the canister monthly to avoid any build but waste. The tank is currently in the process of cycling and I'm testing PH, Amonia, Nitrite, Nitrate every other day using an API test kit. I'm not big on corals at the moment so in the first instance this is likely to be a fish/cleanup crew tank). 

 

I am willing to invest in the tank further within reason. Short term I'm looking at a powerhead to improve flow and a replacement heater (don't like the look of the one I have). Longer term I will be looking at retrofitting a LED light into the hood to replace the T5, adding an auto top off and potentially a heater monitoring system and potentially some form of skimmer if I can jerry rig it in somewhere.  I am conscious that this is a small tank however and I want the fish to be the highlight of the tank not all the devices hanging off the top of it. 

 

Now the interesting part, for those of you who are so obliging, questions:

 

  • Firstly what am I doing right/wrong? I'm new to this and willing to learn. 
  • Once the cycling is complete, I will be looking to add a clean up crew, what would you recommend for this tank. 
  • What are your thoughts on chemical filtration in marine tanks? I had a lot of success using it in freshwater and I was wondering if that translates to marine. 
  • What additional test kits to I need beyond PH and nitrogen cycle stuff, any recommendations?
  • I have read a rule about 1/2 in of fish for every Gallon of tank, is this US gallon or rest of the world gallon?
  • Finally what fish would you stock this tank with?

 

I apologise fo the long rambling post! But I would appreciate any advice you would be willing to give. 

 

Thank you in advance!

 

IMG_7349 2.jpg

IMG_7682.jpg

PS. the tank looks a tad murky because I was just trying (and failing) to even out the sand. 

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billygoat

Hey there and welcome to N-R! :welcome:

 

3 hours ago, Redreidy said:

Firstly what am I doing right/wrong? I'm new to this and willing to learn. 

You're going slowly and planning ahead, which is certainly right! And so far you don't seem to have done anything wrong, so that's great too. 😄

 

3 hours ago, Redreidy said:

Once the cycling is complete, I will be looking to add a clean up crew, what would you recommend for this tank. 

Diatoms are the first algae that will show up in your tank, so you'll want to get some Cerith, Nerite, Astrea, or some similar grazing snails to get things started. After that you can get additional clean-up crew members depending on what sort of other pest algae appear later on (e.g. hermit crabs for hair algae, emerald crab for bubble algae, etc.). Avoid scavengers like Nassarius snails or brittle stars until you get fish, since they only eat leftover food and have no interest in algae.

 

3 hours ago, Redreidy said:

What are your thoughts on chemical filtration in marine tanks? I had a lot of success using it in freshwater and I was wondering if that translates to marine. 

I am of the opinion that chemical additives (other than carbon) should be used sparingly unless absolutely necessary. Some people swear by them though. I think you will probably get a lot of varying feedback on this point.

 

3 hours ago, Redreidy said:

What additional test kits to I need beyond PH and nitrogen cycle stuff, any recommendations?

For the time being, you need no other test kits. If you ever keep coral you'll want reef foundation (Ca, KH, Mg) and phosphate test kits, but that's way down the road.

 

3 hours ago, Redreidy said:

I have read a rule about 1/2 in of fish for every Gallon of tank, is this US gallon or rest of the world gallon?

Those are US gallons. That's sort of a dubious rule of thumb though; the actual carrying capacity of your tank depends on a huge variety of different things (feeding regimen, presence or absence of extra equipment such as a protein skimmer, whether or not you have a refugium for nutrient export, etc.).

 

3 hours ago, Redreidy said:

Finally what fish would you stock this tank with?

I'd start out with 3. Maybe a clown pair + a goby or blenny? Keep it simple and go slowly, and over time you'll get a feel for what the system can or cannot handle.

 

I hope this is helpful!

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Tamberav
  • Firstly what am I doing right/wrong? I'm new to this and willing to learn. Monthly cleaning of the canister may not be enough, especially with bio-balls in there. I toss my floss TWICE a week. Why do you feel you need bioballs? I would put a little carbon/purigen in the canister with some disposable floss on top of it. You can possibly put some media for biological filtration under the floss if you want. I have never needed more biological filtration outside of live rock in any tank I set up.
  • I would clean the canister at minimum weekly. They are not popular in marine because they are a pain in the ass to maintain when you have to open it up so frequently, not because they can't work. HOB's are popular because you can grab the floss and toss and put a new one back in without even turning off the HOB. Every so often you get a miracle baby and someone can make something work most can't like cleaning a canister every 6 months or dosing without testing but this isn't the norm.
  • Once the cycling is complete, I will be looking to add a clean up crew, what would you recommend for this tank. If usually toss in 1 mexican turbo, a few trochus, and some nitrites and nass snails. Just a general mix of popular snails will be fine. 
  • What are your thoughts on chemical filtration in marine tanks? I had a lot of success using it in freshwater and I was wondering if that translates to marine. I use a small amount of carbon in case there is air pollution or something on my hands or chemical warfare between corals. I don't really use it to 'clean' the water. I have tried that stuff in the past but its more trouble than it's worth. If your water is too clean, you got problems, if your water is too dirty, you got problems. Light filtration and regular water changes are generally the easiest to keep that happy middle. 
  • What additional test kits to I need beyond PH and nitrogen cycle stuff, any recommendations? You almost never need to test or care what pH is... if you buy that 'buffer' it will likely mess your tank right up. Just letting you know now. pH will just be based off the carbon dioxide in your house. I use Hanna Alk, Hanna low range phosphorous, Red Sea Calcium, Magnesium, and Nitrate. If you plan on just softies you will not need to test as often but LPS and SPS will be more demanding to keep parameters in check. I test alk twice a week, Nitrate and PO4 every 2 weeks unless they out of range... and Ca/Mg monthly (or longer because they never change if I keep alk in range). 
  • I have read a rule about 1/2 in of fish for every Gallon of tank, is this US gallon or rest of the world gallon? This rule is... just wrong. For 15 gallons, 3 small nano fish would be about average for space and bioload. Salt water fish are more territorial and aggressive and pushy at times, when crowded even peaceful ones turn into bullies. It isn't a 'community' like tropical fish can be. Research your purchases, some small colorful fish are mean enough to kill others much larger than them. 
  • Finally what fish would you stock this tank with? Two clowns and a goby is generally the beginner standard. However, small blennies, firefish, cardinal fish, pygmy wrasse, chormis, certain damsels, royal grammas, ect are all popular. Just be careful what you mix... for instance, I would not put a royal gramma with a firefish in a small tank. Try to add more aggressive/boisterous fish first.

 

 

Some combinations off the top of my head:

Yellow Watchmen goby

Tailspot goby

Occy clown

 

Pygmy wrasse

Firefish

Blue/green Chromis

 

Perc Clown

Springer damsel

Orange stripe prawn goby

 

Clown pair

Yellowhead jawfish

 

Bangaii cardinal

Neon goby

Hifin goby

 

Clown pair

Royal gramma

 

 

If it were my personal tank and my ONLY tank and I had to choose beginner friendly fish..

 

Perc or Occy Clown pair (whatever designer you like)

Tailspot blenny

Green banded goby pair

 

which is technically 4 fish 🙂 but there is a big difference between a pair of small gobies and larger nano fish. This combo will give you award winning personality and interactive fish. 

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YHSublime

Solid advice already. 

 

I agree, your canister filter is going to be a huge PIA, you may have the best of intentions, but I think we all do when we start! If you can hook a hang on back filter, it would do you better, would agitate the water surface, much easier access. 

 

I wouldn't try to turn this into anything complicated, some easy softies, some green star polyps, a pec. pair of clowns, and maybe a goby. Personally I'd get a powerhead in there first, you can find them relatively cheap, a Jebao could do it for ya'. I imagine your future baby will enjoy the movement of the fish and the swaying of the corals, heck, I bet you will as well!

 

An ATO will be super helpful, especially if you ever plan on a vacation. 

 

The simpler you keep it, the happier you will be.  

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Pjanssen

I agree on getting rid of the canister-more trouble than benefit. Your rocks and sand will serve as your biological filtration. I always use carbon, and when I don't I start getting more cyano type algae. Without corals, your light and your test kits are fine. You may want a powerhead just to help keep the tank from getting dead spots and upping the chance of algae growing. I also don't think you will need a protein skimmer with fish only if you keep on on weekly water changes.

 

Assorted snails and even hermits crabs would be good. A lot of people with corals don't do crabs because 1 they tend to knock them of their rocks, and 2 they have the potential to pick at the corals

 

Start small and few with fish and allow them to help build up the biological filtration. gobies and blennies are fun choices.

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Clown79

I agree with the others. A good hob like Seachem tidal would be better than the canister.

 

The tidal comes with a large basket for plenty of media, its silent, flow control, and a surface skimmer.

 

Bioballs themselves aren't recommended anymore because they themselves can become a nutrient factory. 

You really don't need added bio media when you have a decent amount of rock.

 

I always use floss(changed twice a week), and a good carbon. I like purigen so I use it but it's not necessary.

 

A skimmer as well isn't necessary on smaller tanks, some systems need them, others don't. That depends on what's stocked and the maintenance done on the tank. 

 

A powerhead is highly recommended, not only for keeping the tank clean but for oxygen/gas exchange.

 

The light is fine for fish but will need upgrading for corals unless you do none photosynthetic corals.

 

The fish "rule" is really used in fw, not so much in sw.

 

In that size tank 3- 4 small fish would be max, plus your cuc.

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ninjamyst

Don't go crazy with your CUC and add 20 snails at once.  They will starve unless you have a major diatom or algae outbreak.  The best snails are trochus and Florida ceriths.  Dwarf ceriths are kind of useless.  Astreas can't flip themselves back if they land on their shell.  Mexican turbos tend to get too big and knock things around although they are great if you having major algae issue.  If this was my tank, I will start with just 3 trochus and 3 nassarius.

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Redreidy

Hi All, 

 

Thank you for all of your great feedback!!

 

The idea behind the Canister filter was to make sure I had plenty of biological filtration and be somewhere to add additional filtration (carbon,floss) if needed as i removed the internal filter from the tank. I was also hoping to get a decent amount of flow out of the return but unfortunately that wasn't the case. I appreciate the comments about the hang on the back filter and will see if I can find a way to retrofit something on. The largest limiting factor for hang on's for me is my cat Peanut, anything he can stick his paw in (especially something with brightly coloured moving things in) he will so the Lid needs to be tight and not expose the running water etc (he will play with this). For the time being I will see how i get on with the canister. Having said that your comments have helped me massively in terms of my plans to maintain this. I think I will flush out the bio balls when I conduct a weekly water change and change the floss on a twice weekly basis moving forward. I don't mind doing the work to be honest there is something about menial tasks I find relaxing. 

 

I think based on the feedback a power head will be my next purchase, I will get straight on to researching this!

 

interesting your comments about 3-4 fish depending on size, i had little point of reference in this, I know from research that it would be less than I had experience when I was keeping Freshwater, but my expectation was actually less (I thought 2 fish would be maxing it)

 

Thank you @Tamberav for the fish suggestions, I obviously have been gawping at the fish at my LFS and its encouraging to see some of my favourites on your lists? do Clowns generally keep better in pairs, as I was thinking about getting just the one? I also love the colouration of Green Chromis but i have red that they shouldn't be kept singularly?

 

I have seen a delightful Saddleback clown and a little Yellow Clown Gobie which i will be sorely tempted by once my tank is ready to add fish. The saddlebacks max size might be a tad bit to big for my tank though. 

 

I think one day I will venture in to keeping some corals but I feel that is another other bridge to cross at some point, the first step for me is keeping the fish and Critters alive and well!

 

Thanks again. 

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Tamberav
1 hour ago, Redreidy said:

Hi All, 

 

Thank you for all of your great feedback!!

 

The idea behind the Canister filter was to make sure I had plenty of biological filtration and be somewhere to add additional filtration (carbon,floss) if needed as i removed the internal filter from the tank. I was also hoping to get a decent amount of flow out of the return but unfortunately that wasn't the case. I appreciate the comments about the hang on the back filter and will see if I can find a way to retrofit something on. The largest limiting factor for hang on's for me is my cat Peanut, anything he can stick his paw in (especially something with brightly coloured moving things in) he will so the Lid needs to be tight and not expose the running water etc (he will play with this). For the time being I will see how i get on with the canister. Having said that your comments have helped me massively in terms of my plans to maintain this. I think I will flush out the bio balls when I conduct a weekly water change and change the floss on a twice weekly basis moving forward. I don't mind doing the work to be honest there is something about menial tasks I find relaxing. 

 

I think based on the feedback a power head will be my next purchase, I will get straight on to researching this!

 

interesting your comments about 3-4 fish depending on size, i had little point of reference in this, I know from research that it would be less than I had experience when I was keeping Freshwater, but my expectation was actually less (I thought 2 fish would be maxing it)

 

Thank you @Tamberav for the fish suggestions, I obviously have been gawping at the fish at my LFS and its encouraging to see some of my favourites on your lists? do Clowns generally keep better in pairs, as I was thinking about getting just the one? I also love the colouration of Green Chromis but i have red that they shouldn't be kept singularly?

 

I have seen a delightful Saddleback clown and a little Yellow Clown Gobie which i will be sorely tempted by once my tank is ready to add fish. The saddlebacks max size might be a tad bit to big for my tank though. 

 

I think one day I will venture in to keeping some corals but I feel that is another other bridge to cross at some point, the first step for me is keeping the fish and Critters alive and well!

 

Thanks again. 

 

Clowns can be kept singular just fine and happy. The reason people do pairs is to see them interact with each other but single is fine too! My first clown was a singleton.

 

Chromis are actually best as singles...they slowly pick each other off in groups in our small glass boxes.

 

I would avoid larger clowns...not because of the size but because when they mature into adults they they do more damage then the smaller clowns when they get more aggressive.They can kill their tank mates and some draw blood when you stick your hand in. They grow some sharp teeth 🙂

 

My perculas were peaceful the first few years but my female is a mean shit now. They are more accepting of fish already in the tank before them or with them when they are babies. They also get along better with fish that don't hang out in their area.

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Tamberav

Having two of my 3 bengals loving water.... I totally get the cat thing... I think the tidal hob is all enclosed? 

 

I paid a fair amount for custom lids that could hold their weight and are heavy. 

 

zcat2

 

 

IMG_20180309_201446.jpg.abfe91e41a87d0aa

 

 

 

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Tamberav

Dirty cat paws are the best kept reefing secret 😉 It adds that little special somethin to the water 😛

 

 

 

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Pjanssen

@Tamberav, I love your cat!!

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Clown79
On 7/3/2019 at 10:24 PM, Tamberav said:

Dirty cat paws are the best kept reefing secret 😉 It adds that little special somethin to the water 😛

 

 

 

@Tamberav

 

I love your cats!

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Redreidy

Cute cats. 

 

This is peanut, he's quite huge or a cat and likes to break things so I think its best to keep him away :). 

 

IMG_0652.thumb.jpg.4d5a9daba9a40f61e429c26b54a6e817.jpg

 

Anyway back to aquariums, I am having a few issues with my cycle. Its been ongoing now for 4 weeks and I am yet to see any spike in Ammonia, Nitrite or Nitrate. The only thing showing on my test is 0.25 ammonia. When I started the cycle I popped in a bottle of Bio Spira. a week ago I went to my local fish store and they recommended a product called Microbe Lift Nite out 2 starter bacteria which I have been using but still no changes in reading other than consistent ammonia. I did cure the rock, sand in the tank for a couple of months prior to doing a complete water change and starting the cycle I'm not sure if this could be impacting the cycle. I have also started to get some rusty brown colouration in the tank (below pictures). I have added a small pinch of flakes in a couple of times also but again nothing happened. This is very different from my previous experience with Freshwater as I used to get huge spikes in each as the nitrogen cycle established without really any input from myself at all... any ideas what else I can do?

 

88636784_IMG_77044.thumb.jpg.118b196a5b2c9eb405aafb01255bed3f.jpg IMG_6175.thumb.jpg.fc1b2ba646542c7400a5ffaf33678e70.jpg

 

 

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YHSublime

I say this in all seriousness,

 

take a whiz in your tank. It'll either jump your nitrogen cycle, or process it. Either way, it's free, and you can get a beat on it. 

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Pjanssen

Possible your test kits are out of date? It is possible to not have a cycle if your rock is truly cured. However, if you have even a little bit of ammonia, then I suggest you wait until its gone before adding any livestock.

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Clown79
2 hours ago, Redreidy said:

Cute cats. 

 

This is peanut, he's quite huge or a cat and likes to break things so I think its best to keep him away :). 

 

IMG_0652.thumb.jpg.4d5a9daba9a40f61e429c26b54a6e817.jpg

 

Anyway back to aquariums, I am having a few issues with my cycle. Its been ongoing now for 4 weeks and I am yet to see any spike in Ammonia, Nitrite or Nitrate. The only thing showing on my test is 0.25 ammonia. When I started the cycle I popped in a bottle of Bio Spira. a week ago I went to my local fish store and they recommended a product called Microbe Lift Nite out 2 starter bacteria which I have been using but still no changes in reading other than consistent ammonia. I did cure the rock, sand in the tank for a couple of months prior to doing a complete water change and starting the cycle I'm not sure if this could be impacting the cycle. I have also started to get some rusty brown colouration in the tank (below pictures). I have added a small pinch of flakes in a couple of times also but again nothing happened. This is very different from my previous experience with Freshwater as I used to get huge spikes in each as the nitrogen cycle established without really any input from myself at all... any ideas what else I can do?

 

88636784_IMG_77044.thumb.jpg.118b196a5b2c9eb405aafb01255bed3f.jpg IMG_6175.thumb.jpg.fc1b2ba646542c7400a5ffaf33678e70.jpg

 

 

When you say cured for months, what did you do?

Do you have any nitrates in the tank?

 

If they were dry rock, most add an ammonia source to start the cycle. Did you do any ammonia dosing, add a shrimp, feed the tank?

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Redreidy
13 hours ago, Clown79 said:

When you say cured for months, what did you do?

Do you have any nitrates in the tank?

 

If they were dry rock, most add an ammonia source to start the cycle. Did you do any ammonia dosing, add a shrimp, feed the tank?

Hi, I scrubbed the rock using a toothbrush to ensure there was no loose matter on the parts I could get to. Following this I placed the sand/rock in the tank with salt water and an internal filter for flow and a heater and just left it running for 2 months or so with the lights off. Following this I did a 100% water change and then added in Biospira, switched filters, started testing the tank regularly. 

 

I am reading zero on nitrites and nitrates and 0.25 ammonia on the API Saltwater test kit. The only other thing of not is the PH which is 8.0 currently. More recently I have been adding a small pinch of marine flake food to see if I can get any sort of response every couple of days but the ammonia has remained at 0.25 no nitrites or nitrates. 

14 hours ago, Pjanssen said:

Possible your test kits are out of date? It is possible to not have a cycle if your rock is truly cured. However, if you have even a little bit of ammonia, then I suggest you wait until its gone before adding any livestock.

Good suggestion, I did buy it from Amazon, but it is in date. I am quite cautious about these things and I wouldn't add anything until I was sure the tank could support it, the problem is the ammonia (o.25) has been present for the last 4 weeks so I feel at a point where I have to give it a nudge.

 

15 hours ago, YHSublime said:

I say this in all seriousness,

 

take a whiz in your tank. It'll either jump your nitrogen cycle, or process it. Either way, it's free, and you can get a beat on it. 

lol seriously, I' m not sure how I feel about that!! I feel like there are too many variables, how much, how hydrated, what to eat prior lol 

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Clown79

With 0 nitrates, it often indicates no cycle has completed.

 

  rock in a tank for 2 mnths should eventually build up bacteria but with dry rock, the best method with full control and a much cleaner method is dosing ammonia like Dr Tim's.

 

That's how you would know. If the tank can process 2ppm of ammonia in 24hrs.

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Redreidy

 

So as a quick update, following your feedback I decided to start feeding my tank on a daily basis with Marine flakes. The Nitrate level has since gone from 0 to 20ppm which seems to suggest that the nitrogen cycle is taking place. The ammonia still has a slight green tinge to it (it’s supposed to be yellow), however, after some research I have found out that other people have been having this issue too and have suggested the colour chart may be off so I tested the saltwater and the RODI water I purchased from my LFS and they are both returning the same reading, so I think for the moment I will assume there is no ammonia and order a different test kit.

 

I have also ordered a Koralia Nano 1600 (Litre per hour) wave maker and a simple plug timer system for my light to ensure that the tank is consistent. I am also on the lookout for a suitable hang on the back filter that will fit with the flap on my lid. I can always get a freshwater tank to make use of the canister filter I bought 😈

It’s safe to say that the Diatoms in my tank have exploded now, so I am thinking about added a small clean-up crew in the next week. Before this I plan to do a decent water change, add in the chemipure blue, I don't think I need the chemical filtration but I'm going to do it for peace of mind.  

 

I think at some point I will be looking to add some beginner corals in also but for the moment I quite like the idea of a small amount of Macro Algae. I have been doing a bit of reading and it seems to support the stability of the tank and it might offer some nice movement in these early days. Has anybody got any experience of this and is it easy to maintain?

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Clown79
8 hours ago, Redreidy said:

 

So as a quick update, following your feedback I decided to start feeding my tank on a daily basis with Marine flakes. The Nitrate level has since gone from 0 to 20ppm which seems to suggest that the nitrogen cycle is taking place. The ammonia still has a slight green tinge to it (it’s supposed to be yellow), however, after some research I have found out that other people have been having this issue too and have suggested the colour chart may be off so I tested the saltwater and the RODI water I purchased from my LFS and they are both returning the same reading, so I think for the moment I will assume there is no ammonia and order a different test kit.

 

I have also ordered a Koralia Nano 1600 (Litre per hour) wave maker and a simple plug timer system for my light to ensure that the tank is consistent. I am also on the lookout for a suitable hang on the back filter that will fit with the flap on my lid. I can always get a freshwater tank to make use of the canister filter I bought 😈

It’s safe to say that the Diatoms in my tank have exploded now, so I am thinking about added a small clean-up crew in the next week. Before this I plan to do a decent water change, add in the chemipure blue, I don't think I need the chemical filtration but I'm going to do it for peace of mind.  

 

I think at some point I will be looking to add some beginner corals in also but for the moment I quite like the idea of a small amount of Macro Algae. I have been doing a bit of reading and it seems to support the stability of the tank and it might offer some nice movement in these early days. Has anybody got any experience of this and is it easy to maintain?

Some ppl have had issues with the Api registering ammonia after cycling, myself I have never seen it.

 

What kind of water is the lfs selling? Is it RODI or RO water? I ask because if the LFS water has ammonia readings and you are using this in your tank, it may be the reason you are getting readings. 

 

Not all stores change their filters regularly enough nor all sell rodi. Have you tested the tds on the water from the lfs?

 

A great hob filter is the seachem tidal. I used the 55 and it by far is the best hob I have ever used. Its silent, a huge media basket, and surface skimmer.

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