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derekeverything

Cloudy water in empty tank - dump it?

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derekeverything

Hey all,

 

So I’m just starting up my first reef tank.  It’s a 24 gallon cube, and I’m planning on adding ‘the package’ from Tampa Bay Saltwater.   At the moment, there is nothing in the tank except the salt water, but the water has gone fairly cloudy and I’m not sure if I should do anything about it.

 

The water was crystal clear for the first week (9/22 – 9/27) as I was making water adjustments to meet Tampa Bay Saltwater’s recommended parameters.  But then overnight on 9/27-9/28 it just suddenly went all cloudy on me and has remained cloudy since, despite a 20% water change.  The cloudiness is like a white haze suspended in the water as shown in the photo.  There is also a very thin layer of fine white powder on the bottom of the tank, but otherwise no noticeable mineral build up.

 

As there is no live rock or any other life in the tank (just water) and I have some time before the live rock shows up, would it be less of a hassle to dump all the water and start over before adding the live rock, rather than trying to deal with the cloudiness after the live rock is added? 

 

The cloudiness happened the night I added  7 grams of Calcium Chloride dry pellets I got from a beer homebrew shop (dissolved in RO/DI water), which raised the calcium in the tank from 365 to 390 ppm overnight.  Now I’m wondering if adding so much caused some calcium precipitate.  I also added 100 mL of Fluval Sea Magnesium Chloride at the same time, which raised magnesium from 1260 to 1305 ppm.  I wouldn’t have added so much of either if there were coral or fish in the tank but figured it’d be fine in an empty tank – was that a mistake? 

 

I haven’t added any ammonia or other cycle starters as ‘the package’  supposedly cycles the tank once the first shipment is added to the tank.  I’m also wondering if the lack of any beneficial bacteria in the water for a week allowed a bacteria bloom to take hold. 

 

Other background info:

·         Base water: Red Sea Salt with RO/DI

·         Baking soda to adjust alkalinity

·         Calcium chloride dry pellets from a beer home brew shop to adjust calcium

·         Fluval Sea Magnesium Chloride to adjust magnesium

·         I also initially tried adding about 2/3 a gallon of kalkwasser in the first week to raise calcium and alkalinity but it had no measurable effect so I gave that up

·         Water parameters:

o   Ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate all at zero from day 1 (9/22) to today

o   Specific Gravity = 1.025 from day 1 to today

o   Alkalinity = 9 dkh from day 1 to today

o   Before 9/28 water adjustment:  Calcium = 365, Magnesium = 1260

o   After 9/28 water adjustment & onset of cloudiness:   Calcium = 390, Magnesium = 1305

o   10/12:  20% water change; slight reduction in cloudiness

 

All the info I'm finding about dealing with cloudy water has to do with established tanks, so I appreciate any advice you can throw my way!  

 

-Derek

cloudy water.JPG

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Clown79

Hello and welcome.

 

You have added a whole lot of stuff in a short period of time for no reason. Sounds like precipitation.

You are complicating things before you have even cycled the tank.

 

Keep things simple.

 

Your target numbers are what your salt mixes at. Red sea has batch numbers that you can check online for ehat that baatches parameters should be.

 

Dosing should be done to replenish what corals use up, not to reach a certain level.

 

Especially in a new system.

 

Trying to get your numbers to certain levels when your salt doesn't mix to those levels will mean you will constantly be struggling. You will be dosing all week to get to or maintain a number then when you do a waterchange it will fluctuate again.

 

 

You won't have any nitrates, nitrite, or ammonia in the tank. Its just water with salt.

 

 

Are you getting dry rock or actual established liverock? 

 

 

 

 

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derekeverything

Thanks @Clown79.  I wasn't aware of the Red Sea Batch website - that is helpful.  Per Red Sea's reported values for my batch, the parameters should be what I'm targeting... I was just consistently getting much lower readings of calcium and magnesium in my tests - especially of the magnesium.  I figured I'd have to add calcium and magnesium to each bucket & test it before dumping into the aquarium - and yes, that would be a pain!

 

Having checked my batch properties, I have a hunch where I went wrong.  I've been using a hydrometer I use for homebrewing and the scale is not great in the range we use for aquariums.  I'm probably reading the specific gravity wrong, as I was finding I had to use less salt than Red Sea calls for to hit the targeted specific gravity. 

 

My plan is to get actual established live rock, which is why I want to make sure the water is good before I put anything in. 

 

Heading out to buy a proper hydrometer now!

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sublunary

Yes, having something to properly measure the salinity is important.  Do a bit of research before you pick something.  Swing-arm hydrometers are cheap, but can be inaccurate and have a lot of room for user error.  Floating hydrometers can be very accurate, but also a pain to use.  Simple prism refractometers are probably the most widely used and have a good combination of ease and accuracy.  There are also digital refractometers, and probes that check salinity using conductivity. 

 

My partner does home brewing, so between us we have like 7 different hydrometers/refractometers lol.

 

I think Clown is absolutely right with their suggestions on why you're getiting cloudiness.  Figuring out the right ratio of salt to water will help that. 

 

Honestly, in your situation, I would have mixed some water and held it in buckets or other containers until the "package" arrives.  Sand and rock displace a lot of water volume, and it's much easier to add them before any water when you first set up. 

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derekeverything
31 minutes ago, sublunary said:

My partner does home brewing, so between us we have like 7 different hydrometers/refractometers lol.

Hah!  I guess I'm on my way there too.  I have a refractometer and a 2 floating hydrometers for beer and thought to myself "I'm NOT buying another thing to measure specific gravity".  None of them have a good range at aquarium salinity levels though.  Oh well!  

 

Thanks for the advice on doing some research - I've got my short list now as I head out to see if I can find something that isn't junk at Petco.

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Clown79

I'd recommend getting a good refractometer and calobration fluid. Parameters will be different at different salinity levels.

The salt batch params is usually when mixed at 1.026.

 

Alk, ca, mag is not something you need to overly be concerned with at this point. When you have corals its an issue.

 

Salinity level, temp, water movement is at this stage.

 

I would have added the water once you were setting up the tank. Adding sand will be more of a pain and you will need to remove water to add the rocks. 

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Tamberav

If it is precipitate, then adding floss or such to try and catch some of it should help.

 

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derekeverything
10 hours ago, Tamberav said:

If it is precipitate, then adding floss or such to try and catch some of it should help.

 

Thanks - good to know there is something I can do about the cloudiness.  I think I still have some testing to do before I know if I want to dump and start over or just remove the precipitate.

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derekeverything
16 hours ago, Clown79 said:

I'd recommend getting a good refractometer and calobration fluid. Parameters will be different at different salinity levels.

Well this is wild.  I'm getting 1.025 on my floating hydrometer, 1.020 on the Instant Ocean hydrometer, and 1.015 on my refractometer (3.9 brix converts to 1.015, although the refractometer is currently calibrated with RO/DI water).  I've got some saltwater calibration fluid for the refractometer on the way to see if we can get 2 out of 3 of these devices to agree!

 

If the Instant Ocean hydrometer is correct, that would explain the low calcium and magnesium test results.   But it will also blow my mind if the floating hydrometer is off by THAT much!

specific gravity.JPG

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debbeach13

I have never used a hydrometer. So no comment there. I find floating hydrometers to be fairly reliable. I would discount the refractometer until calibrated. I think the suggestion to try some floss and not to dose any thing is good advice. 

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Garf

I think you are worrying about too many things to prep for the arrival of the live rock. I'd toss out what you have made so far, and start with a new batch measuring by volume or weight to get to your target 1.025.  If you follow the directions on the mix, you should be pretty close to 1.025, the live rock and sand won't care if it's off.  Tampa bay will send you all the sand and half the live rock, dump it in and start the cycle.  You do not need to add anything to the salt mix to adjust parameters, save your sanity and make their published parameters your target parameters

 

Then as it cycles, you have plenty of time to get the salinity measurement figured out, and your ATO dialed in to maintain the salinity. Let it finish the cycle, then finish the rest of the package.

 

One thing I do not see in your original post is what parameters you are trying to match. The only advice I can give here is to choose a salt mix that is close to the parameters the livestock are coming from. But that usually is not even needed. Inverts are usually pretty tough, but the main thing you need to avoid is ammonia/nitrite. 

 

One thing I don't like about this "package" is that they will ship the second half of the live rock with the inverts. You will have 12 turbos, 24 hermits coming, along with live rock that will obviously cause another cycle. If your tank is truly handling the processing of ammonia to nitrate in a reasonable time period, then any ammonia created from the die off of the second half of the live rock may not harm the inverts. I'd just make sure that there is plenty of algae for them to eat before I'd tell them to ship the inverts. 

 

 

 

 

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Clown79
1 minute ago, Garf said:

I think you are worrying about too many things to prep for the arrival of the live rock. I'd toss out what you have made so far, and start with a new batch measuring by volume or weight to get to your target 1.025.  If you follow the directions on the mix, you should be pretty close to 1.025, the live rock and sand won't care if it's off.  Tampa bay will send you all the sand and half the live rock, dump it in and start the cycle.  You do not need to add anything to the salt mix to adjust parameters, save your sanity and make their published parameters your target parameters

 

Then as it cycles, you have plenty of time to get the salinity measurement figured out, and your ATO dialed in to maintain the salinity. Let it finish the cycle, then finish the rest of the package.

 

One thing I do not see in your original post is what parameters you are trying to match. The only advice I can give here is to choose a salt mix that is close to the parameters the livestock are coming from. But that usually is not even needed. Inverts are usually pretty tough, but the main thing you need to avoid is ammonia/nitrite. 

 

One thing I don't like about this "package" is that they will ship the second half of the live rock with the inverts. You will have 12 turbos, 24 hermits coming, along with live rock that will obviously cause another cycle. If your tank is truly handling the processing of ammonia to nitrate in a reasonable time period, then any ammonia created from the die off of the second half of the live rock may not harm the inverts. I'd just make sure that there is plenty of algae for them to eat before I'd tell them to ship the inverts. 

 

 

 

 

Ya i guess it depends on the liverock. If it's fully established and shipped in water, there shouldn't be a cycle but if its just standard dirty liverock and not shipped in water, getting half the rock later on will definitely cause a spike in the cycle. Which prolongs the process, can confuse a new hobbyist, and a waste in time.

 

I don't like bundles or packages myself. I feel for cuc, the packages are far too big for new systems.

 

For other bundles, it leaves you little control over choice. Like getting rock in separate orders. This is redundant for cycling and aquascape purposes.

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Tamberav

12 turbos and 24 hermits is a lot 😮

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Garf

Honestly, actual live rock from the ocean is cool.  Watching for hitchhikers, learning about what is good, what is bad is pretty neat. Enjoy the journey, and if you take away just one thing from this experience, let that be patience is key. I know it is hard to wait, but the reward is in an amazing reef eco system that you built, with creatures that can live 10 years or longer with proper care. 

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derekeverything
8 hours ago, Garf said:

One thing I do not see in your original post is what parameters you are trying to match. The only advice I can give here is to choose a salt mix that is close to the parameters the livestock are coming from. But that usually is not even needed. Inverts are usually pretty tough, but the main thing you need to avoid is ammonia/nitrite. 

I'm leaning towards dumping and starting over.  Glad I bought a RO/DI filter! 

 

My targeted parameters (from Tampa Bay Saltwater) are in the left 'TBS Target' column below, along side the Red Sea Salt parameters at 35 and 33 ppt.  Basically it looks like with the salt I've got I can choose 35 ppt and specific gravity will be a little high, or 33ppt and magnesium will be a little low. What would you do?

 

Parameter  TBS Target  RSS@35ppt    RSS@33ppt 
SG: 1.022 - 1.025       1.026       1.025
pH:     8.0 - 8.3         8.2-8.5      8.2-8.5
Alkalinity:       7 - 11      7.5-8.5         7-8
Ca:   375 - 475     415-445      395-425
Mg: 1250 - 1350   1240-1320   1180-1260
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derekeverything
8 hours ago, Tamberav said:

12 turbos and 24 hermits is a lot 😮

I thought so too, and also thought 'the package' seemed to come with just too much rock.  I went with the next size down from Tampa Bay Saltwater's recommended size, so here's what I've got coming:  40lbs live rock, 20lbs sand, 20 hermits, 10 snails, 2 cukes, 1 star, 1 shrimp.  Still seems like kinda a lot, but like @Garf said, watching for hitchhikers and just seeing what crawls out and learning about it all sounds awesome, and is why I'm going with Tampa Bay - particularly since they do overnight ship everything wet.   

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Garf
31 minutes ago, derekeverything said:

I'm leaning towards dumping and starting over.  Glad I bought a RO/DI filter! 

 

My targeted parameters (from Tampa Bay Saltwater) are in the left 'TBS Target' column below, along side the Red Sea Salt parameters at 35 and 33 ppt.  Basically it looks like with the salt I've got I can choose 35 ppt and specific gravity will be a little high, or 33ppt and magnesium will be a little low. What would you do?

 

Parameter  TBS Target  RSS@35ppt    RSS@33ppt 
SG: 1.022 - 1.025       1.026       1.025
pH:     8.0 - 8.3         8.2-8.5      8.2-8.5
Alkalinity:       7 - 11      7.5-8.5         7-8
Ca:   375 - 475     415-445      395-425
Mg: 1250 - 1350   1240-1320   1180-1260

Definitely the 35ppt. TBS's targets pretty much cover a majority of salts out there, that 7-11 alk you could drive a dump truck full of salt through!

 

Assuming you are making this in a couple 5g bucket or something like that. Fill one bucket with RODI, swap buckets, mix salt. By the time your second bucket is full, dump sw mix in the tank, repeat. I would not mix this in the tank.  

 

Mix to your target using weight or volume measure (surely you can find that from Red Sea online). Forget about all the other parameters. No use in even testing those while cycling. No need to worry about matching the TBS target. The only thing to be concerned with is mixing your Red Sea salt consistently to get within its target parameters. 

 

With the first 5g batch, I would establish baseline parameters that gets you started with your monitoring. Salinity/Alk/Ca/Mg/Temp, put it in a journal (spreadsheet works well).  If you are good at measuring, then you can assume you are close to the 35, and I'd use some of this water to test your hydrometers and refractometer, this should help give you some warm and fuzzy feelings on the measurements. Then I would measure salinity on each 5g batch you make.  Get that calibration fluid to test the refrctometer, and see if you can have someone in the area bring theirs over to test. 

 

Time this to be completed a day before the first shipment, then let it stew, get that cycle going and let it get dirty.  

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Garf

Good thing about the 40lbs of live rock is you hopefully will have a lot to choose from. I can't imagine it all fitting in your tank, unless the rock is really dense. Let it cycle with everything in there, it is much easier to take things out than adding stuff back in. 

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derekeverything
58 minutes ago, Garf said:

Definitely the 35ppt. TBS's targets pretty much cover a majority of salts out there, that 7-11 alk you could drive a dump truck full of salt through!

 

Assuming you are making this in a couple 5g bucket or something like that. Fill one bucket with RODI, swap buckets, mix salt. By the time your second bucket is full, dump sw mix in the tank, repeat. I would not mix this in the tank.  

 

Mix to your target using weight or volume measure (surely you can find that from Red Sea online). Forget about all the other parameters. No use in even testing those while cycling. No need to worry about matching the TBS target. The only thing to be concerned with is mixing your Red Sea salt consistently to get within its target parameters. 

 

With the first 5g batch, I would establish baseline parameters that gets you started with your monitoring. Salinity/Alk/Ca/Mg/Temp, put it in a journal (spreadsheet works well).  If you are good at measuring, then you can assume you are close to the 35, and I'd use some of this water to test your hydrometers and refractometer, this should help give you some warm and fuzzy feelings on the measurements. Then I would measure salinity on each 5g batch you make.  Get that calibration fluid to test the refrctometer, and see if you can have someone in the area bring theirs over to test. 

 

Time this to be completed a day before the first shipment, then let it stew, get that cycle going and let it get dirty.  

Thanks so much! I’ve been really scratching my head over the weird measurements I was getting, so I really appreciate a more experienced opinion😁

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derekeverything

So I calibrated my refractometer, and both the refractometer and floating hydrometer are spot on 1.025 SG. The Instant Ocean Hydrometer is just way off at 1.020. 
 

Since the reason I was getting low calcium and magnesium readings clearly wasn’t due to misreading the floating hydrometer, I’m left with one possibility that I can think of: I’ve been doing my Salifert Mg and Ca tests wrong. 😣

 

I’d been taking those readings as soon as the solution starts to change color. Today I mixed up a new batch of water at 1.026 SG, and instead took readings once the solution stopped changing color. Sure enough, all parameters are in the ranges published by Red Sea for my salt mix, and close enough to my target range for the Tampa Bay Saltwater live rock.

 

So I’m now making new water and getting ready to dump the old. I’m actually glad I went through this before putting anything in the tank so I could learn how to test my water properly without killing anything! 
 

Thanks again to everyone on the thread for helping me work through this! You all rock.

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Clown79
1 hour ago, derekeverything said:

So I calibrated my refractometer, and both the refractometer and floating hydrometer are spot on 1.025 SG. The Instant Ocean Hydrometer is just way off at 1.020. 
 

Since the reason I was getting low calcium and magnesium readings clearly wasn’t due to misreading the floating hydrometer, I’m left with one possibility that I can think of: I’ve been doing my Salifert Mg and Ca tests wrong. 😣

 

I’d been taking those readings as soon as the solution starts to change color. Today I mixed up a new batch of water at 1.026 SG, and instead took readings once the solution stopped changing color. Sure enough, all parameters are in the ranges published by Red Sea for my salt mix, and close enough to my target range for the Tampa Bay Saltwater live rock.

 

So I’m now making new water and getting ready to dump the old. I’m actually glad I went through this before putting anything in the tank so I could learn how to test my water properly without killing anything! 
 

Thanks again to everyone on the thread for helping me work through this! You all rock.

With salifert you want to ensure the black  bottom stopper is at 1ml, there will be air in between which is normal because there is liquid in the extended tip.

 

Your true result is when the colour changes. So for magnesium its dark blue. When it hits dark blue, stop adding 

 

Foor calcium it goes from pink to a light blue colour. Once you hit light blue, thats when you stop adding liquid.

 

 

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Andy7

To me it looks like a bacterial bloom but I could be very wrong 

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derekeverything
9 hours ago, Andy7 said:

To me it looks like a bacterial bloom but I could be very wrong 

Yeah, that’s on my mind as 1 of the 2 reasons I’ve decided to dump the water, hand dry the tank, leave the carbon filter out of the tank until the rock arrives, and re-fill with new water before the rock arrives. I’d like to start with as few complications as possible since I’m a total novice. 

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Clown79
1 hour ago, derekeverything said:

Yeah, that’s on my mind as 1 of the 2 reasons I’ve decided to dump the water, hand dry the tank, leave the carbon filter out of the tank until the rock arrives, and re-fill with new water before the rock arrives. I’d like to start with as few complications as possible since I’m a total novice. 

I don't think it was a bacterial bloom because all there is in the tank is water.

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