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Is my tank too small? Need help


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I figured out according this math problem that my tank is 8 gallons, although it was sold to me as a 9 gallon (not that this makes a whole lot of difference). But still, does that seem big enough for a novice?


I'm so new I haven't done ANYTHING successful yet, although at this point have read one and a half books and each time I keep learning what I might have done.


Number one, I added stuff too fast, the corals didn't look good (two have now died), and nitrate was 10. So, I did a 50% water change, and next day nitrate was done, but ammonia was third color down on chart. I put in a Chemi bag (can't think of exact name right now). Then I did 10% water changes for a week. Ammonia went away and in the process lost a trumpet coral and a long tentacle plate. Levels were all zero with 1.025 salinity. For 3 days I didn't test. There is a lot of algae. First green, then orange. Now teh NITRATE is back up to 10 again like it was before this whole mess started. (Livestock = 1 mutlicolored zoo rock that's closed up, 3 snails (2 Cerith and 1 turbo) and 1 tiny tiny hermit crab)


I am planning on getting a bottle of Catalina tonight, heating in a bucket with powerhead, and tomorrow taking out all rock, scrubbing with toothbrush, holding the livestock in a bucket of heated tankwater, taking out sand which is 1 and half inches (nitrate bed?) and adding 1/2 to 3/4 inch sand, putting rock back in, heating all and hoping the last coral doesn't completely die when I put it back but my hopes are not up.


Sorry for the long post. Just hoping for some feedback before I go and wreck things yet again. Not sure I can deal with all that loss 2x just starting up.

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One Eyed Bunny

For beginners the rule is: bigger is better. For advanced aquarists it seems to be: smaller is better.


9 Gal. will certainly be a challenge, however it is still fairly safe for a beginner. You'd have been better off with a 15 Gal. or larger, but what is done is done. With easy, hardy fish and coral you'll be fine.

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Problem #1 - You didn’t let your tank cycle, which usually takes about a month to 6 weeks. Water quality is very poor to toxic while the tank is cycling. Die-off from the live rock is what causes a large amount of the poor water quality.


Problem #2 – You added corals while your tank was cycling and most of them died, which made the water quality even worse.


Taking everything out of the tank and trying to clean it is going to exacerbate the problem & prolong the cycling.


At this point you just need to stick to water changes and siphon out anything that looks dead or dieing in the tank. Keep doing 25% water changes every couple of days for a couple of weeks, then you can cut back to 25% water change a week. With any luck you might have a coral or two survive, but if not, write it up to experience.


The problem is not the size of the tank you started with, but the fact that you needed to do more research before starting your project. Reef tanks can be a very expensive & sometimes frustrating hobby, the more reading & planning you do, the better your investment will pay off.


Start off reading Steelhealr’s manual for newbies, it has a lot of good info.



Good luck


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Hey guys, thanks a lot, or as my wacky husband said I should say, "tanks alot!"



I guess I didn't make it clear in my post, but I did actually cycle the tank for 6 weeks and all levels were 0. But, then, I placed an online order and to save shipping bought too many corals...introduced a nano mushroom pack, a supercolored polyp colony and a trumpet coral (I can't go on, there was even more) within two weeks.


So, lesson number 1, GO SLOW. I guess in my mind I was at first but then knew I wasn't. :o


And you are absolutely right, read, read, read, which is what I'm doing now. Thanks for the link. I will read that too, but also got a couple excellent books. Finally, I got one that my newby brain can actually understand called, The Saltwater Aquarium Handbook by Geoge Blasiola (Barron's). It's a little outdated with a copyright of 2000 though, because he praises undergravels and I've heard that they are no longer popular. But, other than that, it's great.


As far as not changing the water, well, that's too late. I already bought the stuff last night and started. But at this point, I don't mind waiting. I have in there Catalina water and live sand that says you don't need to cycle, although I don't know if this is true. I still have a couple of tiny mushrooms which aren't dead but aren't thriving either, a closed up polyp rock, a tiny black and white legged hermit crab, and three snails. Any idea how long I should wait to add a few more hermit crabs and snails after levels are 0? I know I'll get algae growth. Are you supposed to put them in right after the cycle??

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Snails and crabs will be a safe bet once the tank finishes cycling. I personally put 4 nassarius snails in my 20 gallon the day after I set it up. It was a bad idea on my part, however the water was from another established tank, as well as the aragonite and live rock. The snails did live, and I added 4 blue legged hermits the next week, which did fine.

Id give it a week before you put in any more snails and crabs, otherwise you run the risk of a diatom bloom. I don't trust those "no cycling needed, just add fish" gimmicks, but I won't argue that they don't shorten your cycling time, as I'm sure they do to a degree.

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