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Softie reef on a student budget


InAtTheDeepEnd

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InAtTheDeepEnd

ACurrently in the middle of a very boring fishless cycle so thought I'd start a journal to be able to look back on. 

The tank - a 5.5us gallon/25 litre ciano hexagon and will be soft corals (mostly green Star polyps and zoa's to start off with then maybe some mushroom and Colt corals down the line. I'm also intending to have some macro algae for nutrient export. For livestock I want a nassarius snail and either two Tryssogobius colini (Colin's fairygoby) or a single Pictichromis Porphyrea (strawberry pygmy Basslet), although I haven't decided which yet. 

 

And whilst I'm at it I should probably introduce myself as well.... I'm a slightly clueless 19yo biology undergrad from the south East of England, experienced in freshwater with tanks ranging from 184 gallons to 5, and a brackish paludarium, but with no experience at all with corals or full marine.  Hence my username because a nano reef is surely throwing yourself in at the deep end.... 

 

So far the tank has been set up with sand, live rock, pump, heater, lights, and dosed with ammonia drops and Dr Tim's one and only.

 

Now the waiting game begins 🙃

 

This was the tank and rock earlier today. (I need to clean the glass. Funnily enough I always seem to be needing to clean glass, no matter when I last did it .... 😂😂

 

Advice and constructive criticism is as always much appreciated. 

 

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InAtTheDeepEnd

Today's results.

Still got an ammonia reading, and the nitrates are higher than yesterday (though I'm not sure how much it shows in the photos but it looked more orange in person to my eyes). I keep expecting a nitrite spike and keep.... Not.... Getting one. Also not sure why my ph has gone down to more like 8.0 from 8.2 yesterday, so will check kh later.

But anyway.

Being honest, I'm feeling kinda down about how long this is taking, but for the health of my corals and fish it has to be done.  

 

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I love your stocking plans for this tank!  Cleaning the glass would be a good thing LOL.  Not so necessary right now, but definitely when you start stocking it :).  How many days have you been cycling so far?

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filefishfinatic

get the basslet, the fairy gobies like rubble bottoms. i might get some for my 10 gal because i like the fairy gobies. if you get a can of biospira you should be set instantly. fishless cycling is counterproductive to me because the bottle bac will automatically eat ammonia so you can just add a bottle and fish and it should work out. 

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InAtTheDeepEnd

Yeah I was thinking the Basslet anyway as the dimensions and shape of this tank aren't particularly friendly for multiple fish, especially ones that like to lurk at the bottom as it's got very limited floor space. Plus I saw a Basslet at my lfs last time I went in and was totally smitten lol. It was so friendly. 

I'm not cleaning the glass right now as I'm hoping the diatoms build up will be good for my snail-to-be and during cycling it will act as a nutrient sink and speed things along....I haven't been cycling very long (maybe 2-3 weeks?) But I think there must have been a pretty big die off of bacteria on the mature live rock because I made the mistake of using tap water at first. There's still something left as I dosed

Ammonia up to 2ppm and it went down to 0.5ppm overnight but has been stubbornly stuck at 0.5 ever since 🤷 

 

 

 

 

 

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InAtTheDeepEnd

Already done that.

Still got an ammonia reading. It dropped to 0.25ppm then rose again. Bottled bacteria is dormant so throwing it in isn't an instant cycle, it still takes time to establish. 

 

I'm waiting for it to bottom out at 0ppm before adding anything; fishless cycling may be boring but it's necessary.

And I'm not prepared to take any risks with it BC I'm a newbie at this. I'll still be testing daily and probably add more Dr Tim's one and only when I stock too.... Just going with a belt and braces approach to water chemistry because it's quite a small system.  

 

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 I get you with the boredom. I'm about ready to buy some silicone clownfish off Amazon on nylon string with a suction cup, and a wavemaker. I'm thinking they could entertain me with movement until I get live ones.

 

I'm 3 weeks into cycling and my ammonia is still at .50 ppm with nitrites at .2 and nitrates at .10. I've done Dr. Tims for a week. Mine is just 8 1/2 gallons, I didn't think it took this long to cycle for a small tank. I went with base rock and live sand. 

 

If I don't see improvement by end of next week, I was told I should dump the tank and refill with fresh, salt water. I was told whatever bacteria that established will take hold in the rock and sand and my tank would be cycled. I wonder if this is true? It's not a big deal for me to do this, it's a small tank and I have 10 gallons stored. 

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filefishfinatic
14 hours ago, DebraLV said:

 I get you with the boredom. I'm about ready to buy some silicone clownfish off Amazon on nylon string with a suction cup, and a wavemaker. I'm thinking they could entertain me with movement until I get live ones.

 

I'm 3 weeks into cycling and my ammonia is still at .50 ppm with nitrites at .2 and nitrates at .10. I've done Dr. Tims for a week. Mine is just 8 1/2 gallons, I didn't think it took this long to cycle for a small tank. I went with base rock and live sand. 

 

If I don't see improvement by end of next week, I was told I should dump the tank and refill with fresh, salt water. I was told whatever bacteria that established will take hold in the rock and sand and my tank would be cycled. I wonder if this is true? It's not a big deal for me to do this, it's a small tank and I have 10 gallons stored. 

get macroalgae, its alive and it helps you cycle your tank

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19 hours ago, InAtTheDeepEnd said:

Yeah I was thinking the Basslet anyway as the dimensions and shape of this tank aren't particularly friendly for multiple fish, especially ones that like to lurk at the bottom as it's got very limited floor space. Plus I saw a Basslet at my lfs last time I went in and was totally smitten lol. It was so friendly. 

I'm not cleaning the glass right now as I'm hoping the diatoms build up will be good for my snail-to-be and during cycling it will act as a nutrient sink and speed things along....I haven't been cycling very long (maybe 2-3 weeks?) But I think there must have been a pretty big die off of bacteria on the mature live rock because I made the mistake of using tap water at first. There's still something left as I dosed

Ammonia up to 2ppm and it went down to 0.5ppm overnight but has been stubbornly stuck at 0.5 ever since 🤷 

 

 

 

 

 

From my experience, it usually takes about 3 weeks, 4 weeks maximum.  Almost there!

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7 hours ago, filefishfinatic said:

get macroalgae, its alive and it helps you cycle your tank

I will get that tomorrow at the LFS. My ammonia is at .25 ppm, almost yellow. My Ph at 8, nitrites at .25 and nitrate at 40. My salinity is a little low at 1.021. I'm thinking my tank should complete it's cycling by tomorrow or next. Question?? Once ammonia is good to go, can fish go in and how often do I test ammonia when cycling is complete? Is it tested with every weekly WC? My tank is super small at 8 1/2 gallons with about 7.5 water volume.  I mixed my own water with Instant Ocean salt and have 8 gallons in storage. Thanks for your help 🙂 

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InAtTheDeepEnd
2 hours ago, DebraLV said:

I will get that tomorrow at the LFS. My ammonia is at .25 ppm, almost yellow. My Ph at 8, nitrites at .25 and nitrate at 40. My salinity is a little low at 1.021. I'm thinking my tank should complete it's cycling by tomorrow or next. Question?? Once ammonia is good to go, can fish go in and how often do I test ammonia when cycling is complete? Is it tested with every weekly WC? My tank is super small at 8 1/2 gallons with about 7.5 water volume.  I mixed my own water with Instant Ocean salt and have 8 gallons in storage. Thanks for your help 🙂 

You might get more answers/help if you posted in the water chemistry subforum btw rather than jumping on someone's tank journal

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2 hours ago, DebraLV said:

I will get that tomorrow at the LFS. My ammonia is at .25 ppm, almost yellow. My Ph at 8, nitrites at .25 and nitrate at 40. My salinity is a little low at 1.021. I'm thinking my tank should complete it's cycling by tomorrow or next. Question?? Once ammonia is good to go, can fish go in and how often do I test ammonia when cycling is complete? Is it tested with every weekly WC? My tank is super small at 8 1/2 gallons with about 7.5 water volume.  I mixed my own water with Instant Ocean salt and have 8 gallons in storage. Thanks for your help 🙂 

Only get macro of you want it in the tank. It won't really help your cycle.. it sucks nutrients up.. 

Though dumping the water and refilling is a thing @brandon429 will be able to tell you more about stalled cycles.

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InAtTheDeepEnd

^^^ what they said 

 

It's a good nutrient sink but isn't actually establishing a cycle / building bacterial colony 

Some of it is really pretty though!

 

 

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InAtTheDeepEnd

And I still didn't test because I'm slightly ashamed to admit bad parameters, in any of my tanks, ruin my mood for the whole day 😅😅 even if there's no fish in there. But  tomorrow I swear ( anyone sensing a pattern here 👀👀)

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InAtTheDeepEnd

Oooooh crap I have no idea what's going on with this tank at this point 🤯 

 

pH 7.8 

Ammonia somewhere between 0 and 

.25 ??? But closer to .25 with API 

Looks like <0.15 with the salifert though.....

Nitrites 0 

Nitrates 0ppm? Where'd they go, used up by all the algae? 

 

 

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InAtTheDeepEnd

I swear it's never going to cycle 😞 

 

Ammonia still 2ppm (wasn't as dark in person as it looks in the photos)

Nitrites 0.5ppm

Nitrates 5-10ppm

 

😞

 

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InAtTheDeepEnd

Just over 3 weeks I think? 

 

It'll get there....I'm just being impatient xD just feel like it's been stuck at still high ammonia, some nitrites and very few nitrates for a while now

 

 

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  • InAtTheDeepEnd changed the title to Softie reef on a student budget

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