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Plumbbob

Tired of LFS contradictions

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Plumbbob

I would appreciate an honest and direct answer. I have done everything correctly according to the internet. Forums, vids and a couple of books. I have diatom algae which i understand to be normal. All the trimmings and filtration is as i have been directed. Carbon, bio balls, porcelain rings and of course the poly. My tank is a 25 gallon. Tank fully "cycled" for live stock and coral. Evertime i go to one of the lfs around me, im told contradicting ideas.

I was told i need a filter, then that i dont. That i need 40 times water flow and that it is too much. I need a protein skimmer and that i dont. I have used common sense and over all everything seems fine. I just want a nice aquarium that flourishes. The three lfs that i speak of have me so paranoid i started another tank for back up incase something goes wrong.( it is also fully cycled and ready) My anemone is doing great and my fish aswell. (Found out later that i should have waited on the anemone)Dont really want anymore fish but would love some coral and plants. I was given a couple frags from the lfs and i put them in and dont know what they are. Everything seems just fine. I was a bit sneaky and took water to be tested at all three lfs and got three different answers. Im currently waiting on an api reef kit. Which i was told was ok and then not. Will someone with experience break this down for me. Please. 

And i should have started with stating that this is my first saltwater tank. And im a bit ocd when i set out to do anything.

And everthing i have read i have cross referenced, as i do with anything. The internet is as contradicting as the lfs.

Thank you in advance for any advice and/or direction.

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Fish_Wiz

First off, let me start by saying you need to trust and believe in yourself. I'll give you an honest answer, but the next person will give their's and it may be totally different from mine. I've been doing reef over 10 years and I still learn new things every week, it's important to stay up to date but also don't let go of what works for you. There is no "one" way to succeed in this hobby, there is only what you want and believe in.

 

That said, here are my takes:

  • Get rid of the bio-balls and ceramic rings. If those are not getting lots of flow/aeration, they will become nitrate factories. Stick to more liverock and/or sand.
  • You do need a filter, but you already have that. Poly pads and carbon is a form of filtration, actually two, mechanical and chemical. If your LFS is trying to sell you a canister or HOB, kindly tell them to p*** off. 
  • You do not need a skimmer at that volume. Weekly waterchanges will do you better. While you can have one, most reefs under 30 gals won't produce enough waste for it to be worth it. It's better to do 10-20% weekly water changes with RODI water and good salt.
  • 40X flow may seem like a lot but in some instances can be too little. Don't chase numbers, chase the health of your corals. What matters is that you are getting good circulation throughout the tank while not blasting a coral directly (which would kill it). I have a 30 gallon seahorse tank, pushing about 2000GPH in flow which is ~67X turnover, no issues. More flow never hurts unless you are directly blasting something which is not good. I have a gyre and return pump and that stuff moves water in a current.
  • Anemones are not as hard a people think, especially now that tank-raised varieties are hitting the market in masses. Bubble tips, maxi's, rock flowers, and condy's are common easy ones. RBTAs are too common now and almost bulletproof, I've never been able to kill one. But carpets, especially gigs are still very difficult to keep. If your anemone is doing well, don't over think it, just do what you're doing.
  • API is garbage. I don't care what anyone says. While its cheap, easy to use, and easy to find, it does not make up for how bad it is. Go with something trust-worthy: sailfert, elos, lamotte, red sea pro, etc.
  • Being OCD is good, makes for good habits and a keen eye, just understand that sometimes you need to let nature take its course and you also need to enjoy the hobby. Once it becomes more of a hassle than it is enjoyment, it's time to kick the bucket. 

Hope this helps, feel free to ask more questions, I'd be glad to answer. And as mentioned before, enjoy the hobby.

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Plumbbob

I certainly appreciate that. I enjoy staring at it too much to let it go. And if something goes wrong id rather fix it than get rid of it. I love nature in all forms and its great to watch. 

I do have more questions. But for now, im afraid i have already been had. I have a canister filter. (Purchased from lfs) Should i disconnect? And what would you recommend? I thought of building one of those plexiglass sumps but again was told not necessary. Im a plumber by trade so water flow or filtration will never be a problem in theory. Also what salt would you recommend?

 

 

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Fish_Wiz

If you have it, use it. There's really nothing wrong with a canister and it provides some flow, it just needs to be maintained otherwise it too becomes a nitrate factory. Keep it clean and you will be fine. I'd only run floss and carbon in it, forget about the bio stuff, it'll clog faster than it will filter. I would be cleaning it weekly.

 

DIY sumps are great but you'd then need an overflow and return pump unlike a canister will is a sealed system. For your volume, a sump is not needed.

 

Hands down the best salt I've ever used is Tropic Marin, but it comes with a hefty price tag. My runner up would be Seachem Salinity. Bare minimum would be reef crystals.

 

Plumber huh? You should see my koi pond filter, it's a zoo I had to plumb up.

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Plumbbob

Yeah, in my experience ponds are a pain. There is always filters, heaters, chillers and dechlorinators and whatever new things they can shove in the loop. However, i have plumbed a few places that i was able to visit later and its worth it when they look nice. 

I do complete cleaning every weekend.

I've been using instant ocean. Didn't know any better at first. I do believe i made all the newbie mistakes. Ill try everything you said. Only question, does the rock and live sand take place of bio materials in the canister? Maybe more of an experienced confirmation.

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WV Reefer
1 hour ago, Plumbbob said:

I would appreciate an honest and direct answer. I have done everything correctly according to the internet. Forums, vids and a couple of books. I have diatom algae which i understand to be normal. All the trimmings and filtration is as i have been directed. Carbon, bio balls, porcelain rings and of course the poly. My tank is a 25 gallon. Tank fully "cycled" for live stock and coral. Evertime i go to one of the lfs around me, im told contradicting ideas.

I was told i need a filter, then that i dont. That i need 40 times water flow and that it is too much. I need a protein skimmer and that i dont. I have used common sense and over all everything seems fine. I just want a nice aquarium that flourishes. The three lfs that i speak of have me so paranoid i started another tank for back up incase something goes wrong.( it is also fully cycled and ready) My anemone is doing great and my fish aswell. (Found out later that i should have waited on the anemone)Dont really want anymore fish but would love some coral and plants. I was given a couple frags from the lfs and i put them in and dont know what they are. Everything seems just fine. I was a bit sneaky and took water to be tested at all three lfs and got three different answers. Im currently waiting on an api reef kit. Which i was told was ok and then not. Will someone with experience break this down for me. Please. 

And i should have started with stating that this is my first saltwater tank. And im a bit ocd when i set out to do anything.

And everthing i have read i have cross referenced, as i do with anything. The internet is as contradicting as the lfs.

Thank you in advance for any advice and/or direction.

Welcome to NR! 😊

 

As you are learning, there are a million ways to run a reef. Do your research and then trust your gut. 

 

 

I run my reefs low tech—no filter and no skimmer.  Light, heat and flow...... that’s it. 

 

 

 

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Snow_Phoenix

:welcome:to NR! Do you have a picture of your tank? You could start a tank journal thread to document your progress (or any potential issues) better. 

 

As for LFS advice, some stores offer good tips but most don't. I personally take whatever my LFSes say with a pinch of salt - I prefer reading and researching on my own first, and asking a lot of questions on the forum. 

 

I've never really used a canister for any of my tanks, but I have used HOBs plenty of times with no issue. As for skimmers, if you have a relatively low bioload and stick to regular WCs, it is something you can skip out entirely.

 

If I were you, I would have a look at the journals of other reefers on the site, especially the ones who have been nominated (and won) TOTM. You'll realize there is no 'one-certain-way' to reefing. Different people adopt different approaches and methods to keeping their tanks, which is mostly in tandem with their own lifestyles. 

 

As for the test kit, I agree with Fish_Wiz, you might want to look into something better. Hope to see your tank thread up soon! 😊

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billygoat

Welcome @Plumbbob! Glad to have you here on N-R. Seems like you've already gotten a lot of good advice in this thread, but I'd just like to emphasize @Snow_Phoenix's suggestion to read as many Tank of the Month (TOTM) entries as you can. Scouring the TOTM archive taught me a lot when I was setting up my own system, and even helped me figure out which livestock would be right for my style of reefing. I highly recommend that you check it out!

 

Oh and of course you should start an aquarium journal too. 😁 Simply having the journal and updating it every so often is a good way to get feedback and advice to solve problems, and also just get yourself thinking about your system and what direction you ultimately want to take it in. You can also post tons of pictures there, which will help everybody understand what's going on in your tank and aid them in giving you guidance. 

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Tamberav
5 hours ago, Plumbbob said:

I would appreciate an honest and direct answer. I have done everything correctly according to the internet. Forums, vids and a couple of books. I have diatom algae which i understand to be normal. All the trimmings and filtration is as i have been directed. Carbon, bio balls, porcelain rings and of course the poly. My tank is a 25 gallon. Tank fully "cycled" for live stock and coral. Evertime i go to one of the lfs around me, im told contradicting ideas.

I was told i need a filter, then that i dont. That i need 40 times water flow and that it is too much. I need a protein skimmer and that i dont. I have used common sense and over all everything seems fine. I just want a nice aquarium that flourishes. The three lfs that i speak of have me so paranoid i started another tank for back up incase something goes wrong.( it is also fully cycled and ready) My anemone is doing great and my fish aswell. (Found out later that i should have waited on the anemone)Dont really want anymore fish but would love some coral and plants. I was given a couple frags from the lfs and i put them in and dont know what they are. Everything seems just fine. I was a bit sneaky and took water to be tested at all three lfs and got three different answers. Im currently waiting on an api reef kit. Which i was told was ok and then not. Will someone with experience break this down for me. Please. 

And i should have started with stating that this is my first saltwater tank. And im a bit ocd when i set out to do anything.

And everthing i have read i have cross referenced, as i do with anything. The internet is as contradicting as the lfs.

Thank you in advance for any advice and/or direction.

 

Welcome!

 

The reason you are getting so many answers is there are about 1000 ways to set up a tank and a million different products!

 

As far as what you NEED, to have a successful tank you only NEED:

 

1. A good source of salt water, this usually means mixing salt with RODI

2. A decent light

3. Flow

4. Live rock

 

Everything else is optional. Everything. Filters, skimmers, carbon, purigen, floss... etc... are just there to help with potential bioload based on what you feed and how many fish you have vs how large and often your water changes are. It will be different for every tank. If you over-filtrate, you will cause nuicense pests and starve corals so it is about finding balance. You find balance by testing your water for PO4 and Nitrate (Alk/Ca/Mg too) and by looking 👀 at your corals and visually seeing if they look happy and if they are growing.
 

I choose to run my tanks very simple... filter floss, a small bag of carbon, and a skimmer. Many fabulous tanks run even less then this and some run more. I only run what I am willing to/can maintain.

 

Canisters are fine but I am not willing to open them 1-2 times a week to clean so I do not use them. 

 

@WV Reefer  does not use any filtration at all outside of natural live rock in her display and her tanks are flippin fabulous 🙂

 

Don't let the LFS push products on you because they want to make a buck. 

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NaturallyKait
10 hours ago, Plumbbob said:

Yeah, in my experience ponds are a pain. There is always filters, heaters, chillers and dechlorinators and whatever new things they can shove in the loop. However, i have plumbed a few places that i was able to visit later and its worth it when they look nice. 

I do complete cleaning every weekend.

I've been using instant ocean. Didn't know any better at first. I do believe i made all the newbie mistakes. Ill try everything you said. Only question, does the rock and live sand take place of bio materials in the canister? Maybe more of an experienced confirmation.

There’s nothing wrong with Instant Ocean. Plenty of people run successful, beautiful tanks using IO. I used it to start too, I’m switching now but only because I found it took too long to mix clearly and that was annoying, not because I had any problems with it. 

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Clown79

My first piece of advice, stop asking the lfs for advice. Most often you will get poor advice, old school advice, or they know jack and are out to make a buck.

 

Not all are like this but unfortunately it's a common thing you see.

 

As you can see there is lots of conflicting info and it's because there are many ways to run a reef.

 

Doing lots of research and deciding what way is best for the hobbyist, their lifestyle, as well as the livestock you want, often works best.

 

For me, I like things being very simple and I went that route because I know it works.

 

Try reading through TOTM, ppls journals. It can really help with seeing how the various methods work and which way you would like to do.

 

There are lots of salts, none are perfect. Everyone has their preference for different reasons.

 

What you absolutely need:

 

1. Good water source: rodi or distilled

 

2. Heater, light, powerhead

 

3. Filter media is optional but you don't need all of it. It should be based on need.

 

4. Filter, skimmer, reactors, refugium, controllers are all optional

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Tamberav
14 hours ago, Plumbbob said:

Yeah, in my experience ponds are a pain. There is always filters, heaters, chillers and dechlorinators and whatever new things they can shove in the loop. However, i have plumbed a few places that i was able to visit later and its worth it when they look nice. 

I do complete cleaning every weekend.

I've been using instant ocean. Didn't know any better at first. I do believe i made all the newbie mistakes. Ill try everything you said. Only question, does the rock and live sand take place of bio materials in the canister? Maybe more of an experienced confirmation.

Instant ocean is used by public aquariums. It is actually a fantastic salt used by many successful reefers... often chosen because parameters are very close to natural sea water. The only bad thing I can say about it is I need to clean my mixing containers more often than some other brands. 

 

and yes... live rock and sand are the only biological filter a tank needs. 

 

 

 

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Plumbbob

I really appreciate everyone's advice. As time allows i will follow all these tips including the tank journel. I dont mind the work so any option works for me.

I will try removing the canister and skimmer to see how it goes. 

 Recently i was reading and the article recommended using water from an established tank to jumpstart the new one. I dont think i wanna try that but am extremely curious if it works. Apparently im to patient, not that this is bad in this hobby but is what im told often. Didnt think that was possible. 

  Also, thank you for the warm welcome! 

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Tamberav
3 hours ago, Plumbbob said:

I really appreciate everyone's advice. As time allows i will follow all these tips including the tank journel. I dont mind the work so any option works for me.

I will try removing the canister and skimmer to see how it goes. 

 Recently i was reading and the article recommended using water from an established tank to jumpstart the new one. I dont think i wanna try that but am extremely curious if it works. Apparently im to patient, not that this is bad in this hobby but is what im told often. Didnt think that was possible. 

  Also, thank you for the warm welcome! 

I would never do that tbh..... first bacteria is mostly on surfaces... rock...sand... etc... so jump starting it used with live rock.... not water. Second, I don't want their potential pests and dirty water. 

 

There is a lot of bad information floating around in this hobby unfortunately. I saw someone post on another forum that performing 100% water change would cause your tank to cycle again which is rubbish. 

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xM3THODx
On 8/8/2019 at 4:34 PM, Plumbbob said:

I would appreciate an honest and direct answer. I have done everything correctly according to the internet. Forums, vids and a couple of books. I have diatom algae which i understand to be normal. All the trimmings and filtration is as i have been directed. Carbon, bio balls, porcelain rings and of course the poly. My tank is a 25 gallon. Tank fully "cycled" for live stock and coral. Evertime i go to one of the lfs around me, im told contradicting ideas.

I was told i need a filter, then that i dont. That i need 40 times water flow and that it is too much. I need a protein skimmer and that i dont. I have used common sense and over all everything seems fine. I just want a nice aquarium that flourishes. The three lfs that i speak of have me so paranoid i started another tank for back up incase something goes wrong.( it is also fully cycled and ready) My anemone is doing great and my fish aswell. (Found out later that i should have waited on the anemone)Dont really want anymore fish but would love some coral and plants. I was given a couple frags from the lfs and i put them in and dont know what they are. Everything seems just fine. I was a bit sneaky and took water to be tested at all three lfs and got three different answers. Im currently waiting on an api reef kit. Which i was told was ok and then not. Will someone with experience break this down for me. Please. 

And i should have started with stating that this is my first saltwater tank. And im a bit ocd when i set out to do anything.

And everthing i have read i have cross referenced, as i do with anything. The internet is as contradicting as the lfs.

Thank you in advance for any advice and/or direction.

 Welcome to NR!!

 

Being ocd or perfectionist myself, let go a little and you'll enjoy the hobby much better.  

 

 

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Plumbbob

Can anyone tell me if the one pound of rock per gallon is correct? It does not seem logical due to displacement.

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Superdave
29 minutes ago, Plumbbob said:

Can anyone tell me if the one pound of rock per gallon is correct? It does not seem logical due to displacement.

That ratio is not bad, but (as you have quickly ascertained) some say more or less; hard to know for sure due to different densities/composition of rocks.  

 

You have been given some really solid and strong advice already/above.  

 

The only thing I will repeat (for emphasis) is to stick with the health of your corals as a guide; some setups work well for one person but not for others, in terms of type/size of filter, etc.  If your corals are open and bright then you are on the right track.  

 

Water changes, water changes, water changes!  I am still stunned how much my corals perk up after a 10-15% water change.  When I see results, I kick myself for not doing them more often.  

 

I also agree with someone about who said to do lots of reading.  Yes, you will see a wide range of "approaches" but over time you will see common trends and themes.  Also try and see (when on forums) how long people have had their tank in good condition.  It's a hobby and everyone can do what they want, but there are quite a few folks who "set up" a nano by pulling stuff entirely from existing tanks.  While still cool, this is very different from people who start from scratch.  

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billygoat
48 minutes ago, Plumbbob said:

Can anyone tell me if the one pound of rock per gallon is correct? It does not seem logical due to displacement.

1 lb. of rock per gallon is not the worst guideline, but definitely a very rough rule of thumb. I personally started with 10 lbs. of rock in my 18 gallon aquarium (along with 20 lbs. of live sand) and have never had any problems biological filtration-wise.

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