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Enthrol

New tank questions

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Enthrol

Hello everyone!

 

I've been lurking around on these forums for months doing my best to learn from others before trying myself. Took the plunge about 6 weeks ago and found I'm not as knowledgable as I thought I was lol and haven't been able to find the answers on my own. So hoping you all can help me out.

 

The build:

Biocube 32 led
25 lbs wet live rock from lfs (Equal to actual water volume)

40 lbs aragonite dry sand

Sicca 1.5 return pump

2 eheim jager 150w (1 set to 81, the other to 76)

Inkbird temp controller set to supply power at 78 and turn it off at 79

Intank media and fuge baskets

Aqamai kps (using the provided FOWLR 100L setting currently)

No fish or corals yet

Stock lights running a 8 hour full light schedule with simulated sunrise and sunsets and 8 hours dark

Jbj nano glo fuge light (roughly 10-12 hour run time alternating with display lights)

 

i just installed the Sicca today and Aqamai and 1 oz chaeto yesterday. Been running filter floss only since day 1, swapping them out as they start to discolor or once a week if no discoloration had occured.

 

To give a little background the first 2 weeks I started cycle with ghost feeding but never saw my parameters change. Being impatient I vacuumed the bed, rock, and back chambers throughly and performed a 80% water change by proxy. 
I didnt check the new water before adding and afterward realized the salinity was 1.038. After a week of dilluting it with distilled water got it down to the 34 ppt range and its been holding firm there.

At the time of the large water change I added Dr tims and started dosing dr tims ammonia as directed.

About 2 weeks ago I started clearing 2 ppm ammonia and nitrite in 24 hrs. I performed this 3 more times to make sure the results were repeatable.

Since then I've been dosing ammonia to 1ppm every 3 days to feed the bacteria. I havent performed another water change. Parameter results for the last week have been:

0 Ammonia

0 Nitrite

160 Nitrate

7.8 pH (has stayed the same the entire time)


I've seen no diatoms, Cyno, or algae to this point that I was aware of.


After installing the Sicca and Aqamai I saw particles blown into the water column. I ran the aqamai around the tank today to blow anything loose off the rocks and my display ended up looking like a snow globe. Since then (3 hours or so) it has died down either caught by the filter or settled down on the bed and rocks again. Particles stayed in the water column for the 30 minutes I watched my tank looking for dead spots.
 

I'm not sure if those particles are the diatoms I've been looking for. Unfortunately my rock was already brown or purple when I bought it. 

 

So time for the questions:

Should I be blowing the loose particles off the rocks? I'm still trying to find the best positioning and settings for the return outflow and aqamai.

 

I was reading that I should wait to add livestock until nitrates start to drop. I've also read they wont fall and will only drop due to water changes. Further I've read to wait until algae starts to grow and cuc should be my first additions. I know Nitrates should be no higher than 20 ppm and ideally lower than 10. I'm just not sure what to look for now that ammonia and nitrite eating bacteria is established. 
 

Speaking of bacteria, should I be dosing ammonia still?

 

Anything I'm missing? Suggestions? 
 

Lastly, thank you for reading this if you got this far and for any help or information you can provide.

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Elizabeth94

At this point, you are ready for your first fish. Typically you would have some algae which is why people recommend adding snails and such. Plus, they are a low bio load. But sometimes you wont get algae until later. 
 

Your nitrates are 160ppm? That is very high, I would recommend a good sized water change. Get it down to maybe 10-20 if possible before adding your first fish. Just try to get some ideas on stocking and add the peaceful fish first. 

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Enthrol

Good call. I planned to do 2 80% changes which should bring Nitrates between 10-20 unless I'm reading my kit wrong. Then watch it for a couple days to make sure there arent any sneaky sources of nitrate in my system before adding any fish.

 

I havent really decided what my first fish will be. I originally was considering a couple clowns but found out their territorial and should be saved for last. 
I know I want 2 clowns, a yellow watchman goby, and a shrimp of some kind (wife is really wanting a pistol shrimo) but want to save them for later once the system is better established. 
I'm also considering 2-3 line wrasse (I think that's the right name) but want to add them as a pair/group and dont want to overdo it in the beginning.

 

Any suggestions for a hardy first fish?

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Enthrol

In case I seem overly paranoid about my nitrate by wanting to watch it I'll explain. After doing some research I found that 1ppm ammonia would convert to 3.6 ppm nitrate. Over the course of dosing ammonia I've added about 15 ppm ammonia to the current water, so should only be at about 60 ppm nitrate. That has me concerned that something I'm not controlling is releasing nutrients. I'd hate to get a new occupant and realize I have to start fighting a higher than expected bioload.

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Elizabeth94

Don’t worry too much about nitrate. Once you do your big water changes you will be okay. Typically in a new tank I do a large wc after the cycle and then about 20% every week. 
 

As for fish, LiveAquaria has a good section labeled “nano fish” if you want to do some research. Good call in adding clowns last. They can be little poops. 

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Clown79

If the rock was wet liverock from a tank with life in it, there would have been no cycle- the rock would be established with life on it. 

 

There was no need for ammonia dosing. 

Most who dose ammonia for cycling end up with  high nitrates.

a 100% waterchange is performed before adding any livestock.

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Enthrol

Thank you both for the replies and suggestions. A little relieved to know I've been too uptight and now get to move on to the exciting part of finding a new family pet.
 

I'll do a complete water change tonight and proceed with 20% changes going forward. I'll just make sure to keep an eye on the parameters and try to relax about it a bit.

 

Good to know about the live rock for my next tank. Guess I wasted some time, but it gave me a chance to buy equipment.

 

I'll definitely check out Liveaquaria.

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Enthrol

After looking at stocking options I'm thinking:

Option 1

2 frostbite clowns

yellow prawn goby with pistol shrimp

neon goby

firefish

royal gramma


Option 2:

1 or 2 frostbite clowns

yellow prawn goby with tiger pistol shrimp

royal gramma

pink-streaked wrasse

blue and gold blenny


I'm not sure if this is too many. Based off LiveAquaria descriptions these should be ok together but please tell me if I'm wrong. Any suggestions for order in adding to the tank? 
 

I'm also planning to rescape my tank to provide more sand access for the YPG and shrimp, and have better display options for coral in the future.

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mcarroll
On 2/13/2020 at 10:07 PM, Enthrol said:

I've been lurking around on these forums for months doing my best to learn from others before trying myself. Took the plunge about 6 weeks ago and found I'm not as knowledgable as I thought I was lol and haven't been able to find the answers on my own.

You don't mention that you've gotten any good books -- doing so would get a STRONG recommendation from me.  👍

 

I usually suggest that folks start with either (or both) of Martin Moe's books....borrow or buy them used if cost is an issue.

 

This thread has lots of good reading suggestions:

Chime in with your reef-oriented reading list!

 

On 2/13/2020 at 10:07 PM, Enthrol said:

2 eheim jager 150w (1 set to 81, the other to 76)

That's at least 100% too much heating potential.  Your tank is covered (unless it's not) so you have a much smaller need for heat than a typical tank which is open-top and might also have an open sump.

 

On 2/13/2020 at 10:07 PM, Enthrol said:

Intank media and fuge baskets

There should be no need for this in a new tank -- what's been running in it?

 

On 2/13/2020 at 10:07 PM, Enthrol said:

Stock lights running a 8 hour full light schedule with simulated sunrise and sunsets and 8 hours dark

Did you get a chance to see any algae grow or to add some cleanup crew?

 

On 2/13/2020 at 10:07 PM, Enthrol said:

i just installed [...]1 oz chaeto yesterday.

Oops....too soon....never even saw algae grow.

 

On 2/13/2020 at 10:07 PM, Enthrol said:

Been running filter floss only since day 1, swapping them out as they start to discolor or once a week if no discoloration had occured.

Hyperfiltration isn't helpful.  Remove filter floss and only use as-needed.

 

On 2/13/2020 at 10:07 PM, Enthrol said:

To give a little background the first 2 weeks I started cycle with ghost feeding but never saw my parameters change.

You wouldn't with the amount of filtration you've been applying to this poor tank.

 

On 2/13/2020 at 10:07 PM, Enthrol said:

Being impatient I vacuumed the bed, rock, and back chambers throughly and performed a 80% water change by proxy. 

This hobby only has one or two maxims:

 

Nothing good happens fast in a reef tank.

 

Alternately, only bad things happen fast in a reef tank.

 

That's it.  No other maxims.  It's worth pointing out that they both mean the same thing.  😉

 

So an 80% water change was definitely the wrong move.

 

On 2/13/2020 at 10:07 PM, Enthrol said:

I didnt check the new water before adding and afterward realized the salinity was 1.038. After a week of dilluting it with distilled water got it down to the 34 ppt range and its been holding firm there.

Instant karma sucks, but I think I have it too.   Salinity that high is enough to FUBAR your live rock and bio-filter.  :sad:

 

You should have taken no more than 24 hours to fix it....I would have fixed it immediately if possible.   (This happened by you outside the reef tank so it doesn't fit the maxims....you just needed to hit UNDO.)

 

On 2/13/2020 at 10:07 PM, Enthrol said:

At the time of the large water change I added Dr tims and started dosing dr tims ammonia as directed.

About 2 weeks ago I started clearing 2 ppm ammonia and nitrite in 24 hrs. I performed this 3 more times to make sure the results were repeatable.

Since then I've been dosing ammonia to 1ppm every 3 days to feed the bacteria. I havent performed another water change. Parameter results for the last week have been:

0 Ammonia

0 Nitrite

160 Nitrate

Notice that your nitrates haven't don't anything?  That's not normal.

 

Bacteria should be turning a lot of it into NO2 gas.

 

Algae should be turning almost all of it into more algae.  You should have needed a cleanup crew by now, but your tank is stalled in every way but ammonia processing, which is thanks to the Dr Tims.

 

Remember what I said about FUBAR.

 

We also haven't gotten a reading on phosphates yet, which is scary in light of that moster NO3 number....phosphates are likely to be zero or near-zero, which (if true) will be another significant aspect of the problem after that salinity spike.

 

On 2/13/2020 at 10:07 PM, Enthrol said:

I've seen no diatoms, Cyno, or algae to this point that I was aware of.

Nothing will grow without access to essential nutrients -- if we're talking something photosynthetic, then phosphates take on even more significance.

 

On 2/13/2020 at 11:05 PM, Enthrol said:

Any suggestions for a hardy first fish?

No fish until you get the tank fixed and have some healthy algae growth.   (Those nitrates aren't hurting anything in the mean time.)

 

Along with the answers to other questions above, tell us when you can get a phosphate test done at the LFS (or when you get a kit).

 

 

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Enthrol

Thanks for the reply mcarroll, I'll look into that reading list.

 

Only 1 of the heaters actually turns on. The second is a "failsafe" in case the first crashes. Its set low enough to keep my tank from going out of the safe temp range but not high enough to turn on normally. Though I probably sized them too big and should have stuck to 125w. The inkbird will keep either heater from running too long, assuming it doesnt crash too.

 

The Intank baskets havent been running anything except filter floss until I added the chaeto. I still havent added any chemical filtration and wont until I add a couple fish or see a need.

 

Correct me if I'm wrong but filter floss isnt treated to remove ammonia, nitrite, or nitrates. It only catches stuff floating in the water column like excess food. Granted I dont really need it as I'm not adding anything to the water column for it to catch but it shouldnt be considered overkill just a waste of money.
 

Yeah lessons learned on trying to rush the cycle. 
 

I did notice the beginning of algae growth in several spots on the rocks. Should have done it sooner but comparing old pictures to the tank now I definitely see brown dusty like particles on most of the rock too. The sand is still the same color though.

 

I thought anaerobic bacteria (eats nitrate and turns it into nitrogen gas) required like 6 inch deep sand and thick, small pore rock (or low flow so oxygen isnt introduced to the anaerobic bacteria). I definitely dont have the sand bed for it and I'm not sure my rock is a suitable habitat. Without anaerobic bacteria only algae consumes nitrates, which is why I added the chaeto (though apparently too early).

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Enthrol

Did another nitrate test and its definitely lower but not dramatically so

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Enthrol

Did about a 100% water change last night and tested water this morning. Nitrate is at 20.

 

I cant imagine that the small amount water left over contained 20 ppm nitrate, so think something is leaching nutrients. Since I didnt check my parameters last night I'm only guessing. That's what I get for not being thorough. 

 

Going to just wait it out until nitrates stabilize. 

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Enthrol

Nitrates are holding firm at 20, have definite algae growth. I'm considering picking up a couple snails this weekend. Should I let the algae grow a bit more first?

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Ratvan
10 hours ago, Enthrol said:

Nitrates are holding firm at 20, have definite algae growth. I'm considering picking up a couple snails this weekend. Should I let the algae grow a bit more first?

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Manually remove the algae as much as possible before adding the clean up crew. They tend to only eat the new shoots and nubbins of algae growth and not the longer strands. Essentially you want to add a couple at a time and watch for algae growth and keep adding until you dont notice further growth and have less manual removal

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Enthrol
7 hours ago, Ratvan said:

Manually remove the algae as much as possible before adding the clean up crew. They tend to only eat the new shoots and nubbins of algae growth and not the longer strands. Essentially you want to add a couple at a time and watch for algae growth and keep adding until you dont notice further growth and have less manual removal

Good to know, thank you for the tip.

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Enthrol

Finally got all my test kits in readings are:

 

pH: 8.2

Ammo: 0

Nitrite: 0

Nitrate: ~5

Phosphate: .11

Salinity: 32.2 ppt

 

I know I need to get my Salinity to 35 ppt but I'm planning to run my tank FOWLR for a while so I'll make sure its 35 before adding coral.
I've read that I need Phosphate down to around .03 to .05 range. Is it real bad to have it higher? I've got a bag of purigen and Chemipure Elite I havent added yet, would adding either of those help?

 

Going to pick up a Firefish and a couple cuc today.

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SliceGolfer

You’ll want to monitor Alkalinity as well once you add corals. I would not worry about phosphate or nitrate right now. As your tank matures, you’re going to see nitrates remain steady or gradually increase. Phosphates will increase as you feed, or if introduced through your water. This is why RODI or distilled is important for water changes and top off. Hold off on adding chemical solutions like GFO as well. Keep monitoring every week where your parameters are at and watch the trends. If you feed more, phosphates will rise. If you have more fish, the more they poop the more nitrates you will have. Pick some arbitrary numbers you’ll want to keep your tank at. Something like 35ppt salinity, 5ppm nitrate, 0.10 phosphate, 8 Alk, 420 calcium, 1400 magnesium, 78F degrees will suit you very well for fowlr or when you move to soft corals and LPS. If going fowlr only, nitrates upwards to 10-20 ppm are acceptable ranges.

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Enthrol
36 minutes ago, SliceGolfer said:

You’ll want to monitor Alkalinity as well once you add corals. I would not worry about phosphate or nitrate right now. As your tank matures, you’re going to see nitrates remain steady or gradually increase. Phosphates will increase as you feed, or if introduced through your water. This is why RODI or distilled is important for water changes and top off. Hold off on adding chemical solutions like GFO as well. Keep monitoring every week where your parameters are at and watch the trends. If you feed more, phosphates will rise. If you have more fish, the more they poop the more nitrates you will have. Pick some arbitrary numbers you’ll want to keep your tank at. Something like 35ppt salinity, 5ppm nitrate, 0.10 phosphate, 8 Alk, 420 calcium, 1400 magnesium, 78F degrees will suit you very well for fowlr or when you move to soft corals and LPS. If going fowlr only, nitrates upwards to 10-20 ppm are acceptable ranges.

Thanks SliceGolfer, those are pretty close to the "ideal" parameter numbers I had written down for comparison during testing.

 

I was aiming for .05 phosphate but after some better research it seems I'd be wasting my time. Correct me if I'm wrong please, but a .05 is the number to shoot for if you're growing sps corals. Lps and softies are more forgiving on phosphate ppm and can be kept in the .1 ppm phosphate range you suggested. Since my lights are too weak for sps I wasnt intending to add any to my tank anyway.

 

So the only real negative to keeping .1 phosphate range is increased algae growth. With proper maintenance I should be able to keep it under control.

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