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Prezpreston

New Tank Means Tons of Questions!

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Prezpreston

Hi All!

 

I've been lurking these (and other) forums for about a year now, and trying to soak up as much information as I could before taking the plunge into a saltwater aquarium! I've bought books (Saltwater Aquariums for Dummies by Gregory Skomal was great; but outdated. The truly valuable information I've found has been online).

 

I have about 6 years of experience with freshwater tanks, as I took care of the family tank when I was younger, but I was looking to get into my first saltwater tank after becoming absolutely enamored with one of the stars of the hobby; the ocellaris clownfish. However, as money is and was very tight, I couldn't stomach a large purchase.

 

Fast forward to now; after not shutting up at work about saltwater tanks over the course of the past year, one of my co-workers informed me that her neighbor was moving back to Spain, and had to offload his JBJ DX AIO 12G. Best part; he wanted to give it away to someone who would actually care for the tank. Bingo! I'm now the proud owner of a new tank with a little clownfish and two hermit crabs for the past month after a successful move.

 

I have a number of questions I wanted to pose to all ye gods of the nano reef community, but before I do, I wanted to provide the equipment of the tank. Please note that the guy is Spanish, I'm American, and while his English was fantastic, there definitely was some stuff lost in translation (including that he was actually off with a number of things about the tank). So, I'm a little unsure on some of the facts of the tank, which I'm going to lay out below.

 

Equipment:

  • JBJ 12G DX AIO
  • Filtration is pretty much all stock, but I have removed some stuff due to a number of factors which I will get into later, as it relates to one of my questions.
    • Mechanical: Stock sponge filter in the first chamber, and I wrapped some filter floss around the sponge (which dramatically improved water clarity). I recently noted that he has a second stock sponge filter in the first chamber below the top one (which I have not wrapped in filter floss).
    • Biological: Ceramic rings, Bioballs (fully removed now), LR, LS. I've been steadily removing the bioballs over the course of the last two weeks to prevent large swings in water chemistry due to beneficial bacteria removal, and just took out the last three bioballs yesterday. I do plan on removing the ceramic ring bag next week.
    • Chemical: activated carbon bag
  • Stock 106 GPH submersible pump
  • (2) 24 Watt 50/50 CF lamps (which are now broken)
  • Some kind of heater (haven't pulled it out yet to check the brand name because it's working fine. I think it might be a MarineLand or Aqueon).
  • Hydor Koralia Nano Pump 240 (I bought and added in as I noted a few dead spots in the tank after set up).
  • Two little fishes magnetic feeding ring

 

Livestock:

  • Ocellaris clownfish - This little guy is one happy little ducky; constantly swimming around in and out of the current generated by the Koralia powerhead, and fiercely attacking my hand when I'm attempting maintenance in the tank (I still crack up every time he nips at me). Oddly enough, he leaves my 5 year old daughters hand alone when she helps me with maintenance.
  • Two hermit crabs (unsure what species, as the guy who gave me the tank is unsure as well). They are no larger than an inch or two. Their antics as they scurry about frantically are a house favorite.
  • Live rock and live sand (if that counts as livestock considering they host itty bitty creatures?)

 

A few developments since setup:

  • Salinity was out of control when the guy gave me the tank. After immediately testing with a refractometer, I got a salinity reading of 1.046! I was blown away that anything was living, much less seemingly thriving in the tank. I believe he was topping off with saltwater rather than RO/DI water. In any case, after a ~40% water change, I was able to bring the salinity down to a perfect 1.023. My clown and hermits are nice and happy, with no shock that I can tell (after 3 weeks).
  • Using the API test kit after tank setup, I thought I had slightly elevated ammonia levels. After using RO/DI water as a control, I discovered that in fact, I had no ammonia levels present, but instead the API test kit has some interesting coloring (a quick Google search helped me see I wasn't the only one having issues with the ammonia test in the kit).
  • Unfortunately, I was an idiot and accidentally shorted out/blew out my CF lamps. The stock remote ballast has two sets of male and female pin connections. I plugged the wrong male into the wrong female, and the lights sputtered and stopped working completely, although the nite lite LED's work fine. I replaced the fuse in the remote ballast after seeing it had blown, but still no dice with the lights. From what I can tell, JBJ has stopped selling the CF lamps online, but my LFS said I should be OK without lights for a little while (maybe a month) while I attempt to either buy a much more expensive light (AI Prime) as I plan on scaling up to larger tanks in the future, or find a CF lamp in a dark corner of the interwebz.
  • Nitrate levels have remained moderately high, at around 20-30 PPM since setup. After reading that my bioballs and/or ceramic rings may be the cause (and in fact, were redundant as I had LR and LS), I decided to start scaling down the bioballs and ceramic rings. Yesterday, as I mentioned above, I removed the last of the bioballs. Testing after a 25% water change yesterday revealed the needle really didn't budge all that much in terms of nitrate levels.

 

Phew! Lots of information. So - here are my questions!

  • As far as media goes - is my thinking correct in that my bioballs and ceramic rings are redundant with my LS and LR? Should I go downstairs right now and toss out my ceramic rings or wait a week as I just tossed out the last of my bioballs yesterday? Are they actually contributing to high nitrate levels?
  • From what I can tell, Seachem Purigen (https://www.liveaquaria.com/product/4326/?pcatid=4326) is amazing filter media that might help me get a fix on my nitrate levels. Would this kind of media be considered chemical media, and could it take the place of my charcoal bag?
  • Is the second stock sponge in the first chamber redundant? Can I toss it out?
  • Are there any other types of filtration I should consider? I haven't been able to find any kind of tiny grow light that would fit in the second chamber to allow it to act as a refugium, which I would really like to do.
  • I've resisted adding any livestock to the tank until I get the nitrate levels under control. Once they are controlled, the only additions I would like to make are some additional inverts and another clown to pair with my current one. I've heard I should get a smaller clown; is that true? Is the current clown too territorial over the tank to consider adding another?
  • Continuing off the last question, I wanted to add a single cleaner shrimp, some dwarf planaxis to aerate and clean the substrate, and some Nassarius Vibex, as I do have some leftover detritus on the sandbed that I hear those little snails are great at getting. Do these sound like good invert choices? Should I consider different or additional choices?
  • I would like to keep coral in this JBJ - should I take the plunge and get a used AI Prime? Or should I go with the CF lamps (if I can still find them)? From what I can tell, the stock CF lamps wouldn't be strong enough to foster good coral growth, but I did see a few apocryphal accounts online.

 

Thank you guys so much; I appreciate any and all help you can give me. I'm so freaking excited to finally be a part of this hobby! Woohoo!

 

Pictures incoming.

 

 

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GetPsyched2124

my opinion:

 

1- depends on your preference and if there is detritus buildup in those rings/balls. if theres a lot of detritus, then yes they'll contribute to the nitrates because of the decomposing matter they're house. I use extra rubble rock, ceramic rings, a filter sponge, on top of my display sand and live rock just for extra surface area for nitrifying bacteria.

2- purigen is considered chemical

3 - similar to what i said in #1, you can use it for more surface area for bacteria. however, if detritus clogs it, it can become a nitrate factory. if most/all detritus is caught by the first filter spongs/floss layer you're using, then it'll be fine.

4 - i'd only worry about extra filtration if what what you have won't keep up with the bioload. there's no point in adding more things to the system that require maintenance or upkeep if there's really no need for it.

5 - yes a smaller clown would be better and would probably be a male. they'd probably fight here and there at first but that's to establish dominance.

6 - those all sound fine to me.

7 - get the AI prime. you'd be much happier with that and it would increase your options for corals.

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Clown79

Bioballs are not commonly recommended and often recommended to remove them slowly.

 

Same with the sponges.

Both are nutrient traps. Both should be removed slowly until they are no longer used.

 

Ceramic rings are personal choice. It's an extra surface are for bacteria

 

Filter floss is far better and needs replacing twice a week.

 

Purigen is a chemical filter, it works well but you will not see a major reduction, it's more of a product that works well with controlling levels.

 

It doesn't replace carbon as they are different products that do different things.

Carbon should be replaced every 2-3 weeks, purchasing a good carbon in larger containers and bagging it yourself is the more affordable method.


 

Your nitrates are probably high for s few reasons-  if you reused the old sand without washing it, it can cause a few issuesyour tank may have even had a small ammonia spike too from this. 

 

The sponges and who knows what the previous owners maintenance methods were in the back chamber, with the media, sand, and of course even the water bring used.

 

Api gets a bad rep for "false" ammonia readings but I have never seen it myself. 0 is has always shown with 0 and any green tinge to it indicating an ammonia presence. 

 

You can do 2 decent size waterchanges to reduce nitrates, it's the fastest, easiest, and more natural method of nutrient reduction.

 

I'd recommend getting a good phosphate kit(not api), remember to calibrate refractometer with calibration fluid, vacuum sandbed with waterchanges, and if you want to do corals, slowly increase salinity to 1.025 or 1.026. Just some helpful tips.

 

Lighting, if you plan on corals- definitely LED over the originals. Most likely its PC lighting which isn't the greatest and bulbs are getting harder to come by. 

 

 

 

 

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Pjanssen

Clown and get psyched have covered your filtration very well. You can add a good deal of snails/shrimp etc without adding too much to the bioload, unless you feel the need to feed (overfeed) them. My opinion on adding a second clown to a 12 gallon tank would be to not do it. The first will definitely be aggressive towards the new fish, and there won't be much space for him to get away. There is no guarantee that they will ever pair. I have 2 in my 29 that have been together for several years, and while they get along, they show no interest in mating. That being said, it can be done, but you will want to figure out a way to keep the two separated within the tank as you introduce them.

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Prezpreston
On 11/19/2019 at 1:43 PM, GetPsyched2124 said:

my opinion:

 

1- depends on your preference and if there is detritus buildup in those rings/balls. if theres a lot of detritus, then yes they'll contribute to the nitrates because of the decomposing matter they're house. I use extra rubble rock, ceramic rings, a filter sponge, on top of my display sand and live rock just for extra surface area for nitrifying bacteria.

2- purigen is considered chemical

3 - similar to what i said in #1, you can use it for more surface area for bacteria. however, if detritus clogs it, it can become a nitrate factory. if most/all detritus is caught by the first filter spongs/floss layer you're using, then it'll be fine.

4 - i'd only worry about extra filtration if what what you have won't keep up with the bioload. there's no point in adding more things to the system that require maintenance or upkeep if there's really no need for it.

5 - yes a smaller clown would be better and would probably be a male. they'd probably fight here and there at first but that's to establish dominance.

6 - those all sound fine to me.

7 - get the AI prime. you'd be much happier with that and it would increase your options for corals.

So appreciate your response GetPsyched - just a quick question on 1. I read somewhere that the reason LR was preferably to bioballs and ceramic rings was that while the balls and rings were great at hosting nitrifying bacteria that converted nitrites to nitrates, they were not nearly as effective at hosting bacteria that would convert nitrates to nitrogen gas, while LR hosted critters that would do so. Is there any truth to that statement?

 

I didn't find any detritus inside the bioballs but I also only gave them a cursory glance when I tossed them out - going to check the sponge filter when I get home today to see if there is any detritus trapped in there.

 

On 11/20/2019 at 12:53 AM, Clown79 said:

Bioballs are not commonly recommended and often recommended to remove them slowly.

 

Same with the sponges.

Both are nutrient traps. Both should be removed slowly until they are no longer used.

 

Ceramic rings are personal choice. It's an extra surface are for bacteria

 

Filter floss is far better and needs replacing twice a week.

 

Purigen is a chemical filter, it works well but you will not see a major reduction, it's more of a product that works well with controlling levels.

 

It doesn't replace carbon as they are different products that do different things.

Carbon should be replaced every 2-3 weeks, purchasing a good carbon in larger containers and bagging it yourself is the more affordable method.


 

Your nitrates are probably high for s few reasons-  if you reused the old sand without washing it, it can cause a few issuesyour tank may have even had a small ammonia spike too from this. 

 

The sponges and who knows what the previous owners maintenance methods were in the back chamber, with the media, sand, and of course even the water bring used.

 

Api gets a bad rep for "false" ammonia readings but I have never seen it myself. 0 is has always shown with 0 and any green tinge to it indicating an ammonia presence. 

 

You can do 2 decent size waterchanges to reduce nitrates, it's the fastest, easiest, and more natural method of nutrient reduction.

 

I'd recommend getting a good phosphate kit(not api), remember to calibrate refractometer with calibration fluid, vacuum sandbed with waterchanges, and if you want to do corals, slowly increase salinity to 1.025 or 1.026. Just some helpful tips.

 

Lighting, if you plan on corals- definitely LED over the originals. Most likely its PC lighting which isn't the greatest and bulbs are getting harder to come by. 

 

 

 

 

Thanks a lot Clown! Wow - I hadn't realize filter floss and carbon required such frequent changes. I'll be sure to change that stuff out today as I'm not sure how long he has had some of this media present in the tank. 

 

Noted re: the purigen as well. 

 

As far as the LR and LS goes - he actually had the tank up and running to the very moment we broke it down and transferred everything to my place, so I'm not sure that the sand contributed to the spike as I kept a healthy 6 inches of water in the tank to cover the sand during the transfer. 

 

Regarding the API test for ammonia - it's really odd, I used RO/DI water as a control and I had the same exact color as my saltwater ~5 PPM. Not to mention that I've conducted the test each week for the past 3 weeks and gotten the same result with both RO/DI water as a control and saltwater from my tank; with the API test kit showing Nitrites at 0. I would expect that if there was ammonia present in my tank, the ammonia would have converted to nitrites by now, correct?

 

He does have a phosphate test kit he gave me (not sure if API) - is that important for checking for corals? Or do I need to check phosphate levels for a FOWLR tank as well?

 

Noted re: salinity and light! Definitely looks like based on what you all have told me, I'll be getting that used AI Prime HD. Definitely going to do the first of the water changes tomorrow and switch out the carbon bag and take out that second filter sponge in the first chamber.

 

Also for the refractometer - the instructions told me to recalibrate using RO/DI water - do I need a special kind of fluid to recalibrate or is that what you were referring to?

 

19 hours ago, Pjanssen said:

Clown and get psyched have covered your filtration very well. You can add a good deal of snails/shrimp etc without adding too much to the bioload, unless you feel the need to feed (overfeed) them. My opinion on adding a second clown to a 12 gallon tank would be to not do it. The first will definitely be aggressive towards the new fish, and there won't be much space for him to get away. There is no guarantee that they will ever pair. I have 2 in my 29 that have been together for several years, and while they get along, they show no interest in mating. That being said, it can be done, but you will want to figure out a way to keep the two separated within the tank as you introduce them.

Thanks Pjanssen! Noted re: the snails/shrimp. I had heard that the rule of thumb was 1 invert per gallon; but it seems like there wouldn't be enough food for 10 additional inverts to eat?

 

Noted re: the clown - I figured I might hold off for now, or rearrange the rockwork and equipment in the tank to try and reset my current clown's territorial instincts, and try to introduce a new clown slowly. Definitely going to do a lot more research before deciding if I'm going to add another clown, because the last thing I want to do is introduce some poor little guy whose life is going to be full of bullying. 

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Clown79
4 hours ago, Prezpreston said:

So appreciate your response GetPsyched - just a quick question on 1. I read somewhere that the reason LR was preferably to bioballs and ceramic rings was that while the balls and rings were great at hosting nitrifying bacteria that converted nitrites to nitrates, they were not nearly as effective at hosting bacteria that would convert nitrates to nitrogen gas, while LR hosted critters that would do so. Is there any truth to that statement?

 

I didn't find any detritus inside the bioballs but I also only gave them a cursory glance when I tossed them out - going to check the sponge filter when I get home today to see if there is any detritus trapped in there.

 

Thanks a lot Clown! Wow - I hadn't realize filter floss and carbon required such frequent changes. I'll be sure to change that stuff out today as I'm not sure how long he has had some of this media present in the tank. 

 

Noted re: the purigen as well. 

 

As far as the LR and LS goes - he actually had the tank up and running to the very moment we broke it down and transferred everything to my place, so I'm not sure that the sand contributed to the spike as I kept a healthy 6 inches of water in the tank to cover the sand during the transfer. 

 

Regarding the API test for ammonia - it's really odd, I used RO/DI water as a control and I had the same exact color as my saltwater ~5 PPM. Not to mention that I've conducted the test each week for the past 3 weeks and gotten the same result with both RO/DI water as a control and saltwater from my tank; with the API test kit showing Nitrites at 0. I would expect that if there was ammonia present in my tank, the ammonia would have converted to nitrites by now, correct?

 

He does have a phosphate test kit he gave me (not sure if API) - is that important for checking for corals? Or do I need to check phosphate levels for a FOWLR tank as well?

 

Noted re: salinity and light! Definitely looks like based on what you all have told me, I'll be getting that used AI Prime HD. Definitely going to do the first of the water changes tomorrow and switch out the carbon bag and take out that second filter sponge in the first chamber.

 

Also for the refractometer - the instructions told me to recalibrate using RO/DI water - do I need a special kind of fluid to recalibrate or is that what you were referring to?

 

Thanks Pjanssen! Noted re: the snails/shrimp. I had heard that the rule of thumb was 1 invert per gallon; but it seems like there wouldn't be enough food for 10 additional inverts to eat?

 

Noted re: the clown - I figured I might hold off for now, or rearrange the rockwork and equipment in the tank to try and reset my current clown's territorial instincts, and try to introduce a new clown slowly. Definitely going to do a lot more research before deciding if I'm going to add another clown, because the last thing I want to do is introduce some poor little guy whose life is going to be full of bullying. 

I would remove the sponge a little at s time. Cut it down with each waterchange as by this point it is a form of biological filtration.

 

When you moved the tank, did you remove the rock disturbing the sand under/around them?

This can release a lot of stuff and can lead to a mini cycle and high nutrients.

 

All refractometer's will say calibrate with distilled/rodi because they aren't just used for this hobby but for other purposes as well.

Calibration fluid is preferred because it calibrates to what we keep salinity at for Sw.

 

I found a significant difference calibrating with distilled(which came with my refractometer) to calibration fluid.

 

Phosphate test is important for corals.

Alk, nitrate, phosphate, calcium, and magnesium are important.

 

Most will advise you that liverock is definitely preferable because it's natural and has all the beneficial critters that add biodiversity.

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AKay3600

I just wanna mention that if and when you do add another clown, make sure you have some sort of lid or screen top over the tank. They will fight for a bit and without a top I would bet on the smaller one jumping out. Sadly happened to me the first time I added a second clown.

 

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Clown79

It's funny so many have issues with clowns 

 

I added mine 7 months later and they immediately bonded yet the ones I added at the same time, I had issues.

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GetPsyched2124
18 hours ago, Prezpreston said:

So appreciate your response GetPsyched - just a quick question on 1. I read somewhere that the reason LR was preferably to bioballs and ceramic rings was that while the balls and rings were great at hosting nitrifying bacteria that converted nitrites to nitrates, they were not nearly as effective at hosting bacteria that would convert nitrates to nitrogen gas, while LR hosted critters that would do so. Is there any truth to that statement?

 

I didn't find any detritus inside the bioballs but I also only gave them a cursory glance when I tossed them out - going to check the sponge filter when I get home today to see if there is any detritus trapped in there.

 

 

While i'm not for sure, i beleive that the bioballs and ceramic rings aren't as good of a host for the bacteria because they lack the types of cracks and crevices that live rock and sand provide. in a way that creates areas of near stagnant water for certain specific types of bacteria that aid in the final conversion process into nitrogen gas. sort of like how people who have sand beds in their tank and you can see from outside the glass under the layer of sand where the nitrogen bubbles form and eventually seep up. so the surface area that bioballs and ceramic rings can provide are good for bacteria, but there are multiple different kinds of bacteria that are needed which some thrive in other conditions. that's partly why i'm a proponent of having a properly used sandbed (whether in the display or refugium), for a utilitarian purpose.  however, someone can correct me if I'm wrong here.

 

the ceramic rings i'm using in the back of my cubey, mainly are just for that small added benefit of surface area. they came with the tank, in a little mesh baggy that's easy to take out if needed, and i don't have anything else that i could really use that space for in the bottom of the chamber.

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Clown79
1 hour ago, GetPsyched2124 said:

While i'm not for sure, i beleive that the bioballs and ceramic rings aren't as good of a host for the bacteria because they lack the types of cracks and crevices that live rock and sand provide. in a way that creates areas of near stagnant water for certain specific types of bacteria that aid in the final conversion process into nitrogen gas. sort of like how people who have sand beds in their tank and you can see from outside the glass under the layer of sand where the nitrogen bubbles form and eventually seep up. so the surface area that bioballs and ceramic rings can provide are good for bacteria, but there are multiple different kinds of bacteria that are needed which some thrive in other conditions. that's partly why i'm a proponent of having a properly used sandbed (whether in the display or refugium), for a utilitarian purpose.  however, someone can correct me if I'm wrong here.

 

the ceramic rings i'm using in the back of my cubey, mainly are just for that small added benefit of surface area. they came with the tank, in a little mesh baggy that's easy to take out if needed, and i don't have anything else that i could really use that space for in the bottom of the chamber.

A deep sand bed of 4" plus works that way but with a regular sand bed that most of us keep you don't want to see those bubbles in the sand bed.

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Prezpreston
23 hours ago, Clown79 said:

I would remove the sponge a little at s time. Cut it down with each waterchange as by this point it is a form of biological filtration.

 

When you moved the tank, did you remove the rock disturbing the sand under/around them?

This can release a lot of stuff and can lead to a mini cycle and high nutrients.

 

All refractometer's will say calibrate with distilled/rodi because they aren't just used for this hobby but for other purposes as well.

Calibration fluid is preferred because it calibrates to what we keep salinity at for Sw.

 

I found a significant difference calibrating with distilled(which came with my refractometer) to calibration fluid.

 

Phosphate test is important for corals.

Alk, nitrate, phosphate, calcium, and magnesium are important.

 

Most will advise you that liverock is definitely preferable because it's natural and has all the beneficial critters that add biodiversity.

I did move the rockwork when we moved the tank - and we definitely disturbed quite a bit of the sand. That totally makes sense except; why haven't I seen a nitrite spike in the past few weeks if the ammonia had spiked? Doesn't the conversion from ammonia to nitrite happen relatively quickly?

 

Noted on the calibration fluid and the phosphate test - definitely grabbing that calibration fluid tomorrow!

 

P.S. You were completely right about the prior owner's maintenance habits being potentially abysmal. I just took out the second filter sponge and ran it under some RO/DI water today - it was literally black and brown in my sink with tons of detritus. May have found my elevated nitrate problem. Washed it a TON and performing a 30% water change tomorrow. Took out my carbon bag today and put in the Seachem Purigen after washing it under RO/DI water.

 

Going to get some new carbon to put in tomorrow. Any carbon you might recommend?

 

Also - when it comes to filter placement - I put the Seachem Purigen underneath my bag of ceramic o-rings in the second chamber, because it kept wanting to float to the top of that chamber. Is that ok? And when I get the carbon, should I literally just stack it like this - seachem purigen on bottom, ceramic o rings in the middle and carbon bag on top in the second chamber? Or should that media be separated somehow?

 

21 hours ago, AKay3600 said:

I just wanna mention that if and when you do add another clown, make sure you have some sort of lid or screen top over the tank. They will fight for a bit and without a top I would bet on the smaller one jumping out. Sadly happened to me the first time I added a second clown.

 

Will do! Thanks Akay.

 

8 hours ago, GetPsyched2124 said:

While i'm not for sure, i beleive that the bioballs and ceramic rings aren't as good of a host for the bacteria because they lack the types of cracks and crevices that live rock and sand provide. in a way that creates areas of near stagnant water for certain specific types of bacteria that aid in the final conversion process into nitrogen gas. sort of like how people who have sand beds in their tank and you can see from outside the glass under the layer of sand where the nitrogen bubbles form and eventually seep up. so the surface area that bioballs and ceramic rings can provide are good for bacteria, but there are multiple different kinds of bacteria that are needed which some thrive in other conditions. that's partly why i'm a proponent of having a properly used sandbed (whether in the display or refugium), for a utilitarian purpose.  however, someone can correct me if I'm wrong here.

 

the ceramic rings i'm using in the back of my cubey, mainly are just for that small added benefit of surface area. they came with the tank, in a little mesh baggy that's easy to take out if needed, and i don't have anything else that i could really use that space for in the bottom of the chamber.

Got it; thanks for all that. Do you ever wash the ceramic o-ring bag with water changes? And I'm realizing now I should have asked this before - so the bacteria that was hosting within the bioballs isn't competing for nutrients with the bacteria on my liverock? I had thought that by removing the bioballs and the second sponge filter, I would free up space + nutrients for beneficial bacteria to grow on my LR + LS - bacteria that could convert nitrates to nitrogen gas.

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Prezpreston

Ok so a bit of an update here.

 

I found a freaking THIRD filter sponge stuffed at the bottom of the first chamber, absolutely filthy with detritus (there are no more I promise). Washed that out today under RO/DI water, and cut off a third of that very bottom sponge filter. So, this guy stuffed three sponge filters in his first chamber. I may be a noob but - he was definitely doing it wrong, right?

 

Turkey basted rocks, cleaned out the chambers, and washed all filter media under RO/DI water. Performed a 30% water change today. Tested levels after water change and got this:

 

0 PPM Ammonia

0 PPM Nitrite

20-30 PPM Nitrate

Salinity 1.025 after using calibration fluid (thanks clown)!

 

Am I always going to have elevated nitrate levels in a tank this small? I’m unsure what’s causing the elevation. 

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Clown79
5 hours ago, Prezpreston said:

Ok so a bit of an update here.

 

I found a freaking THIRD filter sponge stuffed at the bottom of the first chamber, absolutely filthy with detritus (there are no more I promise). Washed that out today under RO/DI water, and cut off a third of that very bottom sponge filter. So, this guy stuffed three sponge filters in his first chamber. I may be a noob but - he was definitely doing it wrong, right?

 

Turkey basted rocks, cleaned out the chambers, and washed all filter media under RO/DI water. Performed a 30% water change today. Tested levels after water change and got this:

 

0 PPM Ammonia

0 PPM Nitrite

20-30 PPM Nitrate

Salinity 1.025 after using calibration fluid (thanks clown)!

 

Am I always going to have elevated nitrate levels in a tank this small? I’m unsure what’s causing the elevation. 

It will take time for the nutrients to get reduced.

A 50% waterchange will reduce it by 50% to give an idea of how much it takes to get the levels down

 

Are you using rodi water? Do you make it or buy it?

 

Once the sponges are gone, this will help too. 

Sponges are good for Fw and qt tanks. They are used for biofiltration but in a saltwater reef tank we have live rock for that.

Sponges trap detritus and aid in nutrients unless replaced often.

 

We prefer to use filter floss changed twice a week to sponges 

 

When you do waterchanges vacuuming the sand is good. If this wasn't part of the normal routine, this should be started in small sections with each waterchange until it becomes a weekly routine.

 

Macro algae in the display can help, setting up a chaeto fuge in the back chambers is another helpful nutrient export.

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Prezpreston
1 hour ago, Clown79 said:

It will take time for the nutrients to get reduced.

A 50% waterchange will reduce it by 50% to give an idea of how much it takes to get the levels down

 

Are you using rodi water? Do you make it or buy it?

 

Once the sponges are gone, this will help too. 

Sponges are good for Fw and qt tanks. They are used for biofiltration but in a saltwater reef tank we have live rock for that.

Sponges trap detritus and aid in nutrients unless replaced often.

 

We prefer to use filter floss changed twice a week to sponges 

 

When you do waterchanges vacuuming the sand is good. If this wasn't part of the normal routine, this should be started in small sections with each waterchange until it becomes a weekly routine.

 

Macro algae in the display can help, setting up a chaeto fuge in the back chambers is another helpful nutrient export.

Ah got it - I'll be doing some heavy water changes over the next few days in that case.

 

Should I grab a filter sock to replace the sponge filter? That way that free floating detritus is trapped somewhere?

 

I use RODI water and I've been buying it from my LFS - nitrates have been zero when I've tested it so I think that's fine.

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GetPsyched2124
On 11/22/2019 at 5:20 PM, Prezpreston said:

Got it; thanks for all that. Do you ever wash the ceramic o-ring bag with water changes? And I'm realizing now I should have asked this before - so the bacteria that was hosting within the bioballs isn't competing for nutrients with the bacteria on my liverock? I had thought that by removing the bioballs and the second sponge filter, I would free up space + nutrients for beneficial bacteria to grow on my LR + LS - bacteria that could convert nitrates to nitrogen gas.

I haven't touched, let alone wash, my ceramic rings in probably 7-8 months. but if i did start to have a nitrate issue, that would probably be one of the first things i'd do.

 

I run two layers of %100 polyester as the first step of filtration in my first chamber. it's cheaper than buying filter floss. it's about $10 a roll and last me close to a year if i change it out once a week.

 

my 20 gallon is a JBJ cubey, which came with nothing but 4 inch thick sponges to fill up the entire first chamber. I never used all of them at once, and cut them down as well. the one piece of sponge i use is not positioned to create a layer of filtration, as it is just free floating in one of the chambers. If i ever need to quickly set up a qt tank, i can pull it out and toss it in that tank to give it that bacteria it would need.

 

 

 

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Clown79
6 hours ago, Prezpreston said:

Ah got it - I'll be doing some heavy water changes over the next few days in that case.

 

Should I grab a filter sock to replace the sponge filter? That way that free floating detritus is trapped somewhere?

 

I use RODI water and I've been buying it from my LFS - nitrates have been zero when I've tested it so I think that's fine.

You could just do 50% waterchange.

 

Most of us use a media basket and filter floss-. We cut the floss to size and replace twice a week. A bag of it costs me $12 in cdn. 

 

Filter socks get expensive and they need switching out mid week and washing.

 

 

You should check the lfs water for tds levels.

 

I don't use ceramic rings but some brands advise replacing every 6 mnths and others instructions are different.

 

Some wash them in tank water(from waterchange) to remove detritus as washing them in freshwater will kill the beneficial bacteria on its surface.

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Prezpreston
On 11/25/2019 at 6:35 AM, GetPsyched2124 said:

I haven't touched, let alone wash, my ceramic rings in probably 7-8 months. but if i did start to have a nitrate issue, that would probably be one of the first things i'd do.

 

I run two layers of %100 polyester as the first step of filtration in my first chamber. it's cheaper than buying filter floss. it's about $10 a roll and last me close to a year if i change it out once a week.

 

my 20 gallon is a JBJ cubey, which came with nothing but 4 inch thick sponges to fill up the entire first chamber. I never used all of them at once, and cut them down as well. the one piece of sponge i use is not positioned to create a layer of filtration, as it is just free floating in one of the chambers. If i ever need to quickly set up a qt tank, i can pull it out and toss it in that tank to give it that bacteria it would need.

 

 

 

Got it - so appreciate that Psyched, thank you!

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Prezpreston
On 11/25/2019 at 6:55 AM, Clown79 said:

You could just do 50% waterchange.

 

Most of us use a media basket and filter floss-. We cut the floss to size and replace twice a week. A bag of it costs me $12 in cdn. 

 

Filter socks get expensive and they need switching out mid week and washing.

 

 

You should check the lfs water for tds levels.

 

I don't use ceramic rings but some brands advise replacing every 6 mnths and others instructions are different.

 

Some wash them in tank water(from waterchange) to remove detritus as washing them in freshwater will kill the beneficial bacteria on its surface.

Great; totally going to do a few more 50% water changes every other day and see what impact that has.


If at that point I’m not seeing a difference, I’ll definitely check RO/DI water for TDS.

 

Last question I promise - if I remove the ceramic rings, will that allow for additional bacteria to grow on my live rock because nutrients are freed up for consumption? Or does it not matter? I’ve got maybe 10 lbs of live rock in the tank if I had to hazard a guess.

 

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Clown79
33 minutes ago, Prezpreston said:

Great; totally going to do a few more 50% water changes every other day and see what impact that has.


If at that point I’m not seeing a difference, I’ll definitely check RO/DI water for TDS.

 

Last question I promise - if I remove the ceramic rings, will that allow for additional bacteria to grow on my live rock because nutrients are freed up for consumption? Or does it not matter? I’ve got maybe 10 lbs of live rock in the tank if I had to hazard a guess.

 

It's just extra surface area for bacteria to grow on but depending on the brand it may need changing and rinsing.

 

You should start with a 50% waterchange first then test nitrates/phos and go from there. It should drop by 50%.

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Prezpreston
7 hours ago, Clown79 said:

It's just extra surface area for bacteria to grow on but depending on the brand it may need changing and rinsing.

 

You should start with a 50% waterchange first then test nitrates/phos and go from there. It should drop by 50%.

Got it - thanks Clown!

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mcarroll

Nutrients

I wouldn't spend any energy worrying about nitrates and phosphates.....just test both and make sure neither one is zero and things should be fine.

 

Lights

Sucks about your CFL lights.....CF lights would most likely be fine, but I would worry that you'll find enough replacement bulbs for sale to be worth the bother.  (New ones will be needed once or twice every year!) 

 

But I also wouldn't buy lights "for your next tank".  It's enough responsibility to plan for this tank and get it right, so focus on that. 

 

Buying "for the next tank" just costs you more up front and locks you into old technology down the road...plus you know what they say about "the best laid plans" (they change!)....there's no advantage, so just buy what you actually need now.   

 

A Prime is way overkill for a 12 gallon 16x14x15"H tank anyway.  Of that 15" of tank height, there can't be more than 10-12" of water column for the light to penetrate.  (Why ~36 watts of PC light worked.)

 

A small Current USA Orbit Marine or Orbit Marine IC, for example, ought to be plenty (model 4100 or 4104) or even a Kessil A80, tho that's prolly not an inexpensive option.

 

Speific Gravity

1.025 or 1.026 are more ideal s.g. levels for a reef.

 

1.046 is wicked high and may have even affected your nitrifying bacteria.  Just FYI....not sure if knowing this helps.  That ammonia reading may not have been completely bogus, but you're also not wrong about the color-reading at zero being tricky.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Prezpreston
4 minutes ago, mcarroll said:

Nutrients

I wouldn't spend any energy worrying about nitrates and phosphates.....just test both and make sure neither one is zero and things should be fine.

 

Lights

Sucks about your CFL lights.....CF lights would most likely be fine, but I would worry that you'll find enough replacement bulbs for sale to be worth the bother.  (New ones will be needed once or twice every year!) 

 

But I also wouldn't buy lights "for your next tank".  It's enough responsibility to plan for this tank and get it right, so focus on that. 

 

Buying "for the next tank" just costs you more up front and locks you into old technology down the road...plus you know what they say about "the best laid plans" (they change!)....there's no advantage, so just buy what you actually need now.   

 

A Prime is way overkill for a 12 gallon 16x14x15"H tank anyway.  Of that 15" of tank height, there can't be more than 10-12" of water column for the light to penetrate.  (Why ~36 watts of PC light worked.)

 

A small Current USA Orbit Marine or Orbit Marine IC, for example, ought to be plenty (model 4100 or 4104) or even a Kessil A80, tho that's prolly not an inexpensive option.

 

Speific Gravity

1.025 or 1.026 are more ideal s.g. levels for a reef.

 

1.046 is wicked high and may have even affected your nitrifying bacteria.  Just FYI....not sure if knowing this helps.  That ammonia reading may not have been completely bogus, but you're also not wrong about the color-reading at zero being tricky.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks mcaroll! You just helped me out immensely. The Kessil A80 is actually within my price range, and the reviews I've read have been wonderful. I think I'll be looking around for a Black Friday sale for one if I can - but $129 isn't too bad either way 🙂

 

Thankfully, my salinity is now locked in at 1.026. I have no idea how the clown and hermit crabs survived. He had an astrea snail that most definitely did not survive the move to my house, and looking back now I think he was dead when we moved him; so that poor guy may have been the only casualty of that insane salinity level.

 

Am I reading that correctly - that nitrates and phosphates should not be 0?

 

Also - I'm realizing now that my ammonia level was not reading as elevated. The guy that owned the tank before me gave me his API test kit but he bought the freshwater test kit and the test card I was looking at was for freshwater ugh haha. So, my ammonia levels are 0 PPM.

 

My plan is to remove my top, get the Kessil A80, and put a net over the top. I also want to create a fuge in the second chamber, but I haven't been able to find any submersible tiny grow lights that would work. Do you happen to know of any tiny submersible grow lights that would allow for me to grow chaeto and make a nice little pod condo? Or is the real estate of this 12 gallon just too tiny?

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AKay3600
4 hours ago, Prezpreston said:

Thanks mcaroll! You just helped me out immensely. The Kessil A80 is actually within my price range, and the reviews I've read have been wonderful. I think I'll be looking around for a Black Friday sale for one if I can - but $129 isn't too bad either way 🙂

 

Thankfully, my salinity is now locked in at 1.026. I have no idea how the clown and hermit crabs survived. He had an astrea snail that most definitely did not survive the move to my house, and looking back now I think he was dead when we moved him; so that poor guy may have been the only casualty of that insane salinity level.

 

Am I reading that correctly - that nitrates and phosphates should not be 0?

 

Also - I'm realizing now that my ammonia level was not reading as elevated. The guy that owned the tank before me gave me his API test kit but he bought the freshwater test kit and the test card I was looking at was for freshwater ugh haha. So, my ammonia levels are 0 PPM.

 

My plan is to remove my top, get the Kessil A80, and put a net over the top. I also want to create a fuge in the second chamber, but I haven't been able to find any submersible tiny grow lights that would work. Do you happen to know of any tiny submersible grow lights that would allow for me to grow chaeto and make a nice little pod condo? Or is the real estate of this 12 gallon just too tiny?

 

Good choice on the light, seems lots of people like them over smaller nanos and they look great!

 

Yeah you don't want nitrates or phosphates at 0, both are needed for coral health. You want them generally to be low, but not 0. I would say to shoot to keep your nitrates under 10, but there are plenty of beautiful tanks out there with higher numbers. Phosphates you want to keep below .1 I believe, but as long as you have no excess algae growth I'm sure you are fine.

 

I remember seeing this light below as a nice option for people looking to grow cheato in the back of an AIO. I don't have any experience using it but I think overall it has positive reviews. Would just need to cut a little square out of the black backing on the back of the tank.
https://www.amazon.com/JBJ-Nano-Refugium-Light-Aquarium/dp/B003J89HEU/ref=asc_df_B003J89HEU/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=167154348866&hvpos=1o3&hvnetw=g&hvrand=12947857028833115737&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9021672&hvtargid=aud-801381245258:pla-309309239953&psc=1

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mcarroll

I'd get the tank rolling and stocked before you worry about a refugium.  Not something that will help a new tank anyway.

 

Not sure how much space you're talking about when (if?) the time comes, but Tunze actually makes a great submersible refugium light.

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Clown79
3 minutes ago, mcarroll said:

I'd get the tank rolling and stocked before you worry about a refugium.  Not something that will help a new tank anyway.

 

Not sure how much space you're talking about when (if?) the time comes, but Tunze actually makes a great submersible refugium light.

It's not a new tank.

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