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Phycostatic

Phyco's 5 Gal Reef

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Phycostatic

Woah hey this is my first post here, though I've been somewhat of a lurker... 

 

I have started up a new pico reef a bit more than a week ago. As of today, Specific Gravity is 1.026 at 78 F, pH is around 8.4, Ammonia is around 0.5, Nitrates around 20, Nitrites around 0.3. As of three days ago, Calcium was 450, Magnesium was 1370, Phos was 0.0, KH was 16.3. I've done multiple water changes since then, so those last ones have probably gone down. For supplements, I have Red Sea's Foundation + (1 kg), which I dose very lightly (about 0.5 mg daily/whenever needed since I have nothing in there yet). I also have Red Sea's trace elements, which I dose even lighter. I have aquvitro's balance which I believe I dosed too much of, hence the high pH. I also have Red Sea's Algae Management, which I don't dose unless nitrates are high. For filtration, I just use the filter that came with it (it was Aquatop's Bullet Tank) but with SeaGel instead of a cartridge. I use the same lights that came with it since I plan on having 2-3 softies only. I use Hygger's heater (20W I think), and no skimmer.  I am planning on getting a small powerhead to increase circulation if I need it. To cycle it, I used FritzZyme 900 with about 3x the base dose. This seems to not have worked, so I'm re-trying with SeaChem's Stability. That one seems to be working much better. I will be getting something to re-establish coralline algae on my live rock, since it seems to have died off. 

 

So, once I get this tank stabilized and get the rhythm and routine down, for livestock, I plan on putting a green clown goby in there, as well as a dwarf feather duster and possibly hermit crabs and snails. I'm not sure which of those last two, yet. I also plan on getting 2-3 softies. Will I need a skimmer for this? Any recommendations for what to do with my tank? This is only my second tank, so I'm no expert yet. Please give me any advice you think I may need.

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ZekesReef

Welcome to NR!

Keep an eye on those nutrients and when they start to drop 🙂 probably starting to get close now!!

Your DKH seems really high. What salt have you been mixing with? Also I wouldn't stress do much about dosing things at the moment until you have a bit of a bioload/demand for the extra nutrients. Most of the other parameters are pretty spot on though.

Skimmers aren't a necessity, very much depends on bioload and how religious you are on water changes. I guess in your case with a small tank you may not be able to fit anything in or will have to use a hang on the back skimmer which can look unsightly. 

All the same best of luck on your new adventure! 

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growsomething

Hi Phyco, best of luck with the pico.  Post us up some pics if you get a chance.  I have almost 0 nitrates and PO4 in my Nuvo 10 with monthly nsw changes and no skimmer or filtration.

Did you start up with live rock?  You shouldn't have to dose for a cycle if you did.

A little goby sounds pretty sweet in that tank.

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Phycostatic
27 minutes ago, ZekesReef said:

Welcome to NR!

Keep an eye on those nutrients and when they start to drop 🙂 probably starting to get close now!!

Your DKH seems really high. What salt have you been mixing with? Also I wouldn't stress do much about dosing things at the moment until you have a bit of a bioload/demand for the extra nutrients. Most of the other parameters are pretty spot on though.

Skimmers aren't a necessity, very much depends on bioload and how religious you are on water changes. I guess in your case with a small tank you may not be able to fit anything in or will have to use a hang on the back skimmer which can look unsightly.

All the same best of luck on your new adventure! 

Thanks for the welcome.

 

Yeah, I noticed today the ammonia finally dropped down to acceptable levels (around 0.1), but it could still drop further. Hopefully it will. Nitrites spiked, so cycling is going well. Nitrates also spiked quite a bit. I used a tiny dose (0.3 ml) of the Algae Management since the Nitrates were a bit too high. For the salt I use, I just use Instant Ocean Salt, not the Reef Crystals, though. It's just what I had on hand for my other 20 gallon. I plan on switching over to Red Sea's Salt or Coral Pro Salt, so maybe that will help. I'm not familiar with the nutrients involved in each brand's salt, but I believe that salt should be better suited for this.

 

For water changes, I'm open to doing them literally every day if I find the need to. I know I won't have to, but I have the time and dedication to do them. I'll probably end up doing one tomorrow to reduce the Alkalinity, though. My bioload shouldn't be too heavy, just a single clown goby, possibly a few inverts, and a few corals, likely soft. 

 

Thank you for the well wishes.

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Phycostatic
15 minutes ago, growsomething said:

Hi Phyco, best of luck with the pico.  Post us up some pics if you get a chance.  I have almost 0 nitrates and PO4 in my Nuvo 10 with monthly nsw changes and no skimmer or filtration.

Did you start up with live rock?  You shouldn't have to dose for a cycle if you did.

A little goby sounds pretty sweet in that tank.

I did start with live rock, so maybe I dosed too much bacteria in there. I did notice recently that some likely coralline algae (blue and branching off the live rock) died off, so I plan on reestablishing that if I don't see it again soon. And I agree, a nice little goby will look nice in there. I didn't realize just how small they were until I saw one in person.

 

Also, here's a picture of it:

Pico.jpg

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ZekesReef
59 minutes ago, Phycostatic said:

I plan on switching over to Red Sea's Salt or Coral Pro Salt, so maybe that will help. I'm not familiar with the nutrients involved in each brand's salt, but I believe that salt should be better suited for this.

Just keep in mind the coral pro's calcium/alk tend to mix quite high as its intended for hard/SPS corals. instant ocean is actually really good stuff so i wouldn't stress to much.

Blue branching stuff of the live rock may be a sponge or possibly some type of macro. Sponge death is very normal when starting a tank unfortunately, especially if its exposed to light. It helps the tank cycle naturally. 

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Jungle_v_i_p

Looking good! Going to be a sweet pico. 

 

You don’t need a skimmer unless you just want one but it could have a negative effect on the system and pull nutrients out too fast. 
 

Your alk is super high unless it was just a bad reading. It happens. You have no need to dose anything right now. Water changes alone are all you need. If you are only going to do softies you may not even need to dose for awhile if ever. All systems are different so your testing will determine when and what you need. 

 

If I were you I would stop dosing anything. Just do water changes once or twice a week. Let the salt do the work for now. Since you started with Live rock and live sand you have no need to dose bacteria. 
 

instant ocean works just fine especially for what your plans with the system are. Plenty of tanks have been successful with it. There are better options but it’s not the worst product you can use. 
 

you’re only a week in. Be patient and let it do it’s thing. 
 

I personally would not be running any type of GFO without knowing if I need it or not. Stripping your water of phosphates is bad. You need some. Seagel has phosphate remover in it so may want to consider another product. I’d be concerned about over filtering this early. 

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Phycostatic
9 hours ago, ZekesReef said:

Just keep in mind the coral pro's calcium/alk tend to mix quite high as its intended for hard/SPS corals. instant ocean is actually really good stuff so i wouldn't stress to much.

Blue branching stuff of the live rock may be a sponge or possibly some type of macro. Sponge death is very normal when starting a tank unfortunately, especially if its exposed to light. It helps the tank cycle naturally. 

I see. Since I'm planning on keeping mostly, if not only, softs, I'll probably just keep what I have now. Speaking of which, any advice on what corals to go with? I was thinking just zoa, gsp, and xenia frags. One of each and maybe not all three. I don't want to overload my tank, so I'll introduce the livestock slowly. Especially for such a small tank, I might have to go one at a time. 

 

I don't have a picture of what I'm talking about, sadly, since it's no longer there, but that does sound likely. 

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ZekesReef
6 minutes ago, Phycostatic said:

I see. Since I'm planning on keeping mostly, if not only, softs, I'll probably just keep what I have now. Speaking of which, any advice on what corals to go with? I was thinking just zoa, gsp, and xenia frags. One of each and maybe not all three. I don't want to overload my tank, so I'll introduce the livestock slowly. Especially for such a small tank, I might have to go one at a time. 

 

I don't have a picture of what I'm talking about, sadly, since it's no longer there, but that does sound likely. 

Just keep in mind xenia and gsp grow like weeds so if you're looking to fill your tank out quickly they're a good options. Its a good idea to isolate them on an island or something so they dont take over.

Otherwise mushrooms are extremely hardy, maybe something like sinularia but yeah just add slowly, be patient. It will all work out :)

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Phycostatic
8 hours ago, Jungle_v_i_p said:

Looking good! Going to be a sweet pico. 

 

You don’t need a skimmer unless you just want one but it could have a negative effect on the system and pull nutrients out too fast. 
 

Your alk is super high unless it was just a bad reading. It happens. You have no need to dose anything right now. Water changes alone are all you need. If you are only going to do softies you may not even need to dose for awhile if ever. All systems are different so your testing will determine when and what you need. 

 

If I were you I would stop dosing anything. Just do water changes once or twice a week. Let the salt do the work for now. Since you started with Live rock and live sand you have no need to dose bacteria. 
 

instant ocean works just fine especially for what your plans with the system are. Plenty of tanks have been successful with it. There are better options but it’s not the worst product you can use. 
 

you’re only a week in. Be patient and let it do it’s thing. 
 

I personally would not be running any type of GFO without knowing if I need it or not. Stripping your water of phosphates is bad. You need some. Seagel has phosphate remover in it so may want to consider another product. I’d be concerned about over filtering this early. 

Yeah, I think so too. I hope everything will go well.

 

The skimmer I tried running for a few days didn't seem to work very well. Plus, if I did run it, the clown gobies are so small that I'm afraid they might have gotten hurt by it.

 

The Alk just seems to keep getting higher. It was about 16 dKH yesterday, and now it's around 20. Is that even possible? I'm using the API test, so are they accurate? The only thing I dosed was a pH Buffer because I noticed the pH dropped from 8.4 to 8. It specifically says it does not affect the carbonate hardness or calcium, so I wouldn't think it would do the opposite. I sadly do not have a calcium and magnesium test yet, but I'm getting them soon. Once I determine how the nutrient consumption goes in my tank, I'll dose based on that.

 

Yeah, I realize I do need to just wait for a while now for the tank to finish cycling. Everything should turn out fine, I think.

 

Alright, I'll check out some other filter media. Any recommendations?

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Phycostatic
4 minutes ago, ZekesReef said:

Just keep in mind xenia and gsp grow like weeds so if you're looking to fill your tank out quickly they're a good options. Its a good idea to isolate them on an island or something so they dont take over.

Otherwise mushrooms are extremely hardy, maybe something like sinularia but yeah just add slowly, be patient. It will all work out 🙂

I do want them to grow quickly, and I don't mind just having those two, so I might just put each on one of the rocks separately and have that be all. Xenia on the left rock, GSP on the right rock. Mushrooms are nice, too, though, and I also like sinularias. What about ricordias? Are they similar to mushrooms in any way growth and hardiness wise?

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Phycostatic

After waking up today, I have found that my return pump on my filter is now spitting out microbubbles constantly. Turning it off and on stops the bubbles for a few minutes, but they continue. It's just a HOB/Internal combo filter with a few compartments for the filter media, pump, and ceramic rings. It just started today. The water level seems fine, it's just how it has always been. Maybe it is too high, though. I'll siphon out some water and see if it helps.

 

Edit: Taking some water out didn't help, but made it worse.

 

Edit 2: Adding more water to a higher level seems to have worked. I also switched back to the filter cartridge that came with it.

 

Edit 3: The small fish and fry guard was clogged. This was causing the water level in the filter to be way too low. I removed it since I really have no need for it. That immediately fixed the problem.

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growsomething

Ricordia are very hardy. No need to dose for any of your stocking choices, i would think.  Just a decent salt mix and monthly or bi-weekly 30% w/c.  I only have tests for nitrates and phosphates and have only tested them 2x in a year when gsp started shrinking (low po4)

You have a pretty minimal maintenance tank planned.

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Phycostatic
1 hour ago, growsomething said:

Ricordia are very hardy. No need to dose for any of your stocking choices, i would think.  Just a decent salt mix and monthly or bi-weekly 30% w/c.  I only have tests for nitrates and phosphates and have only tested them 2x in a year when gsp started shrinking (low po4)

You have a pretty minimal maintenance tank planned.

Good to know. I'll still monitor the parameters occasionally to make sure they're not horrendous. I use Instant Ocean salt mix, so that should be okay.  My nutrients are looking much better now already. Ammonia down to 0.1, NO2 down to 0.2, NO3 down to <5, pH around 8.3, KH still around 15, though. I just did a water change before measuring the KH, so it went down, but not as much as I had hoped. Any suggestions on how to get it down? Is it just water changes?

 

Edit: Nevermind. I got the KH down to 11.5 with a w/c with ro water. The sg was high too, so that helped it as well. The new sg is 1.025. Parameters looking good so far.

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Phycostatic

Day 3 Update (I'll update this every day until I forget to):

 

After testing, parameters are still looking good. I only test for 6 (SG, NH, NO3, NO2, pH, KH), so I'll list them here: ph 8, Nitrate 0, Nitrite 0.5, Ammonia 0.15, dKH 12, and SG 1.026 at 77. I'll be getting calcium and magnesium tested on Saturday, but I'm certain they're in the right place since I haven't dosed anything and there's nothing in the tank yet. I'm certain the main parameters will drop down soon. At least I hope so. The filter is no longer spitting out microbubbles, so that's also good. 

 

I also saw a tiny rose tip bubble anemone at the fish store I work at. No taller than an inch. Apparently it hasn't grown in a long time, too. Definitely alive, though, since I saw it close itself up when the lights were shut off. Anyways, would it be possible to keep that in my reef or will it sting the corals? I plan on getting a larger tank eventually, so, by the time it grows too large for this tank, I could move it there.  Thoughts?

 

Edit: I should specify that they're selling it for $50.

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Phycostatic

Day 4 Update:

I realized my ammonia wasn't going down at all. I was trying to figure it out last night but I couldn't quite do it. Today, after some extra research, I found that the reason the ammonia was constant was because my phosphates were 0.00. Without the phosphates, my good bacteria couldn't work, causing them to not be able to convert NH to NO2 to NO3. I added some dry fish flakes to help add a bit of phosphates, and will find some phosphate additive to increase it a bit more. I also added a bit of water from a more established tank into mine. Hopefully this will help continue the cycle, since it's nearly done. It was my bad for dosing a PO4 X. I got too worried nutrients were too high and rushed it. I'll wait until ammonia drops to 0.00, then I'll consider adding something hardy after a while.

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Jungle_v_i_p
On 2/10/2021 at 7:33 AM, Phycostatic said:

Yeah, I think so too. I hope everything will go well.

 

The skimmer I tried running for a few days didn't seem to work very well. Plus, if I did run it, the clown gobies are so small that I'm afraid they might have gotten hurt by it.

 

The Alk just seems to keep getting higher. It was about 16 dKH yesterday, and now it's around 20. Is that even possible? I'm using the API test, so are they accurate? The only thing I dosed was a pH Buffer because I noticed the pH dropped from 8.4 to 8. It specifically says it does not affect the carbonate hardness or calcium, so I wouldn't think it would do the opposite. I sadly do not have a calcium and magnesium test yet, but I'm getting them soon. Once I determine how the nutrient consumption goes in my tank, I'll dose based on that.

 

Yeah, I realize I do need to just wait for a while now for the tank to finish cycling. Everything should turn out fine, I think.

 

Alright, I'll check out some other filter media. Any recommendations?

Sorry for late response. Work and kids hockey has been crazy busy. 
 

I wouldn’t worry about anything elemental in your tank right now. Just ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. You don’t need to dose A PH buffer. Don’t mess with any phosphate removers. Those products are misleading and will cause harm for you. Many many tanks run from 7.7-8.4. That PH buffer is prob why your alk is through the roof. I’ve never heard of anyone with alk of 20. That’s just crazy. Stop dosing anything and everything. You have no need right now if ever. Stability is key. So if your tank wants to run at a PH of 8.0. Let it run at 8.0. It’s imperative that you test at the same time any time you are checking PH. You will have fluctuation from day and night. Oxygen levels drop at night which causes your PH to lower due to increased CO2 in the aquarium. My runs at 7.9-8.0 corals look and grow well.
 

My advice would be to do 50-100 percent water change next time you do one. Me personally if I purchased your system from you right now the first thing I would do is change 100 percent of the water. Don’t chase numbers. It will be your doom like many others. Your aquarium will balance itself out and be just fine. The first year or so will be ups and downs. Like I mentioned before let the salt do the majority of the work for you with elements. Then when it starts to drop off, if it does, replenish only what is used up. Stability stability stability. The more you mess around and put your hands in the less likely you are to have success. 
 

More than likely with your stocking plans a 25-50 percent water change once a week will do everything for you for the life of the tank.

 

in a 5 gallon for filter media you could get away with no filtration at all but 1 tbsp of carbon rinsed every water change and switched out 1-2 times a month to polish the water is all you should ever need. You can buy a 1 lb container it will last you forever. Get some cheap filter media bags. Smallest you can find. Watch BRStv video on carbon and decide which is best for you. I use bituminous myself. 
 

In my 10 I run carbon and filter floss. I change my floss every 1-3 days as need be. I keep zoas, acans, and sps. I change my carbon every other week and rinse once a week during water changes. Some people run it for 4-7 days a month and that’s it. Every system is different. I keep two clowns and feed reef roids every other week so I like to keep the carbon in to help pull organics. 

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Phycostatic
3 hours ago, Jungle_v_i_p said:

Sorry for late response. Work and kids hockey has been crazy busy. 
 

I wouldn’t worry about anything elemental in your tank right now. Just ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. You don’t need to dose A PH buffer. Don’t mess with any phosphate removers. Those products are misleading and will cause harm for you. Many many tanks run from 7.7-8.4. That PH buffer is prob why your alk is through the roof. I’ve never heard of anyone with alk of 20. That’s just crazy. Stop dosing anything and everything. You have no need right now if ever. Stability is key. So if your tank wants to run at a PH of 8.0. Let it run at 8.0. It’s imperative that you test at the same time any time you are checking PH. You will have fluctuation from day and night. Oxygen levels drop at night which causes your PH to lower due to increased CO2 in the aquarium. My runs at 7.9-8.0 corals look and grow well.
 

My advice would be to do 50-100 percent water change next time you do one. Me personally if I purchased your system from you right now the first thing I would do is change 100 percent of the water. Don’t chase numbers. It will be your doom like many others. Your aquarium will balance itself out and be just fine. The first year or so will be ups and downs. Like I mentioned before let the salt do the majority of the work for you with elements. Then when it starts to drop off, if it does, replenish only what is used up. Stability stability stability. The more you mess around and put your hands in the less likely you are to have success. 
 

More than likely with your stocking plans a 25-50 percent water change once a week will do everything for you for the life of the tank.

 

in a 5 gallon for filter media you could get away with no filtration at all but 1 tbsp of carbon rinsed every water change and switched out 1-2 times a month to polish the water is all you should ever need. You can buy a 1 lb container it will last you forever. Get some cheap filter media bags. Smallest you can find. Watch BRStv video on carbon and decide which is best for you. I use bituminous myself. 
 

In my 10 I run carbon and filter floss. I change my floss every 1-3 days as need be. I keep zoas, acans, and sps. I change my carbon every other week and rinse once a week during water changes. Some people run it for 4-7 days a month and that’s it. Every system is different. I keep two clowns and feed reef roids every other week so I like to keep the carbon in to help pull organics. 

No worries.

 

Yeah, I realized the dosing on my part did just lead to more detriments than benefits. I had no phosphates in my tank, so it just stopped cycling for a few days. I'm starting it back up by throwing some dry flakes in there, hoping they'll release some phosphates soon enough. I definitely got caught up chasing the "perfect water chemistry" and dosed way too many things in there, justifying it by "Oh, it's only a tiny amount." On a side note, though, I did make sure I chose products that increased pH without affecting KH. MY KH has been much better since then, down to 11-12. I'll have to wait to see how my tank goes at the pH it sets itself to. It realistically should be fine, though. I just tend to be on the obsessive side and try to get everything to be what I see as "perfect." Definitely something I have to cut back on.

 

I did a 40-50% water change yesterday, so I think that helped. I'll change some more likely on Monday or Tuesday. Until then, I'll just let it be, other than providing some dry flakes every now and then for PO4. I'll just test for NO3 since that will really tell me everything. I know my calcium, magnesium, and KH levels are perfectly fine too, so, as long as I don't dose anything, they'll be consistent. 

 

Yeah, I'm really trying to keep it simple with my livestock. I do think that the weekly water change will do it's job. 

For filtration now, all I'm using is the cartridge that came with the filter. It already has some carbon in it. I think it should work just fine. 

I think I just have to wait and see how my tank stabilizes itself. I'm certain it will be fine after a little bit longer, though. I just have to remember to leave it alone other than providing some PO4 for the bacteria. 

Thanks a lot for your advice. My tank would probably be a mess for a lot longer if I didn't get any guidance. I appreciate it.

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Phycostatic

(Very Early) Day 5 Update:

 

Nitrates are up to nearly 40 ppm. Ammonia? Still at 0.5. Nitrites? Still at nearly 2. The phosphates didn't increase either. The weirdest part? The fish food is gone. It's only been a bit more than 12 hours and every last bit of it is gone except for the mini algae wafers. I don't get it. Does anyone know what could have happened? I put way more than I would feed normally in that tank, plus 2 mini algae wafers, and all the flakes just swiftly crumbled away. The tank doesn't look cloudy either. The pH is around 8, and Alk is about 14. KH seems to go up and down a lot. I also increased the temp to about 82. Was that a bad idea? I did use something to establish a bio-filter, but that was it. I used less than the recommended dose of it too. Is it that the new bio-filter cleaned up the food and turned it into nitrates before it could release phosphates? Is that possible within around 12 hours? I'm so confused.

 

Edit: I lowered the temp back down to 78. I did a 50% w/c and that lowered NO3 to about 15, and NO2 and NH are about 0.6 each. Why is there always ammonia and nitrites in my tank? It never seems to go away, even after ensuring the bacterial colony is well-established and functioning. Is there something else i need to do in order to get them down, or are the tests just false positives?

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Phycostatic

Day 6 Update:

After this one, I'll be moving to weekly, then monthly. Ammonia is up to about 0.75, nitrites 2, nitrates 40. That's all I'll be monitoring for a while now. I didn't add anything, so how did the ammonia go up when the nitrites did as well? And how is the same true with nitrites and nitrates? 

Also, I ordered something called "Fishless Fuel" by Fritz Aquatics, so hopefully that will get here soon and help the cycle move along. 

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Jungle_v_i_p

It’s part of the process. Every system cycles a little differently. It will pass and be all good in the near future. Nothing good happens in a reef tank fast. Let her ride.

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