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About cchardwick

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  1. OK, so this is my first attempt at a Biocube. I set it up today with black sand, a couple pieces of live rock, and added a biocube protein skimmer. But where in the heck do you put the heater? It has marks on a glass window to where the water level is supposed to be (Min/Max) and when I put the water that low in the sump it won't take the heater because it's out of the water, all except the compartment where the protein skimmer is. So if I use the skimmer I have to put the heater in the main tank, but that's an eye sore. Any suggestions?
  2. Had my first Disaster :(

    You should try to keep your nitrates down below 10 PPM.
  3. Water changes and gases

    The only reason people are saying to change all your water is because you haven't kept up on your water changes. Typically you don't want to change water to get rid of your ammonia during a cycle, that's fighting an uphill battle. That's why they say not to do water changes during a cycle. However, you should keep up water changes based on your nitrate concentrations. Your snails and hermits can easily take a 100% water change so you could easily do it since you don't have any fish or sensitive corals. I have two percula and a cleaner shrimp that is getting pretty big and taking over my 6 gallon nano. I've tried to stop water changes and use additives to get rid of the nitrates but nothing works. My nitrates slowly went up over 100 PPM but it took months. Now I'm doing 25% water changes three times a week until it's below 10 PPM, then I'll cut back to one water change per week (hopefully). But to get up to 160 PPM in just 18 days amazes me, especially with no fish....?
  4. Water changes and gases

    I have two different test kits, one that uses liquids and drops and another one that is a test strip like a pH strip only for nitrates. One says 40 PPM and the other says 12 PPM. There's no way you can be sure it's not your test kit until you do a scientific experiment on the kit. Get some reagent grade Ammonium Nitrate and make a calibration curve made with exact amounts of Nitrate using an analytical balance. Then use your test kit to make the vials turn colors and test them at 504nm on a UV-Vis spectrophotometer so you have a real nice linear calibration curve made from reagents. Then test your water and compare it to the calibration curve and you'll find the right answer. If you have access to a lab you can do it, otherwise it will cost you thousands of $$$ to get set up. But trying to eyeball the color based on a chart and reagents that change over time is tricky at best. You could also buy a 'nitrate probe' for about $250.
  5. Got green hair algae problem? Get these guys!

    A metal halide lamp run for a day or two will also melt that hair algae!
  6. Disappearing fish

    It's probably best not to dig around for them as you may crush them. I have a pistol shrimp in a one gallon tank and he went missing for months. I almost tore down the tank until he decided to pop his head out of a rock!
  7. Had my first Disaster :(

    Wait, is that right when you said your Nitrite is 20 PPM? That's in the deadly range! Nitrite at or above 0.2 PPM is a cause for concern. You should never add too much fresh water all at once and change the salinity that much. That alone could be the cause of all your death and destruction. Even small changes can kill starfish and everything else is sensitive, although not as much as starfish, but none the less you should change it by about 0.002 at the most at one time and slowly change it over a week or so. I prefer to mix up my new saltwater at the desired salinity and after quite a few water changes over several weeks finally get it to where I want it, which should be 1.0026 (what the ocean is). It's not the 1.030 salinity that will kill, rather it's the change in salinity that is the worst.
  8. Water changes and gases

    Wow, I've never seen nitrates go that high during a cycle, that's the hardest cycle I've ever seen. I'm surprised you didn't lose everything in the tank with Ammonia at 8 ppm! And nitrates at 160 is getting close to where it will even kill fish. You may prolong the cycle by doing water changes but you'll keep from killing everything in your tank. I think you should do water changes from day one and keep a regular schedule especially if you want to keep the little critters alive on your rock. If I were you I'd completely drain the tank and refill it with new water (24 hours old) and then start doing water changes at 25% per week. That may be the only thing that will save the stuff you have in there already. You may go through a mild cycle after the 100% water change but it won't be close to what you already went through. And you better keep your lights off with nitrates that high or you'll be in for a bad algae bloom (the bad kind).
  9. Best RO/DI System

    I'm lucky, I work at a chemistry lab and we have a huge RO system with several tanks more than waist high. And we also have a Milli-Q filter on the end of that which makes really clean RODI water. I can fill a gallon in just five minutes. I work late once in awhile and bring in all my empty water jugs and fill them up.
  10. OMG if your nitrates are above 40 ppm you are way behind on water changes! You should start changing your water at about 25% every other day until they are below 10 ppm and then 25% once a week to maintain. If your nitrates get much above 100 you can lose your whole clean up crew.
  11. Recycled Saltwater?

    OK, so I have a 6 gallon nanocube and am in the process of setting up a 12 gallon nanocube. I do 25% water changes every week to keep my nitrates down. But in reality when changing (almost) 100% of the water every month, all of my other parameters are most likely spot on, it's just my nitrates that are being kept in check with the large water changes. Since it's a nano I don't want to add a skimmer, refugium, bio-pellet reactor, or anything fancy. So I had this hair brained idea that I'm thinking of trying, to keep my old water and put it in one of three separate 29 gallon tanks filled with Cheto (algae) with a heater, small submersible carbon filter, and a light. I can slowly fill two tanks and when I fill the last tank I'm thinking the nitrates in my first tank will be zero from the cheto, so I'll be able to use the saltwater from the first tank for water changes and put the old water in the third tank. After several cycles I'd probably have to do maybe one out of five or six water changes with new saltwater to keep my buffer and trace elements in check. But with this system I can simply recycle my old water over and over again saving on time to mix and the expense of the salt and water. What do you think? I have some cheto in my 6 gallon and in the last six months it has grown to about half the tank. So it's growing well, just not good enough to keep my nitrates in check so I have to do frequent water changes depsite the algae. And I'm wanting to take out that cheto all together and add some corals. I'm thinking of something like three of these hidden in a back room in my basement (minus the gravel):
  12. Another ammonia up after adding CUC

    My 6 gallon nano is at work and I never feed over the weekends and my clowns and cleaner shrimp are always fine. I just feed a little bit once a day when I'm there.
  13. Another ammonia up after adding CUC

    DUDE! Your ammonia is near critical and if you don't do something fast your hermits will have tons of shells to use. First I would make up some fresh salt water and test the new water before it goes into the tank. I've known people who had high ammonia in their tap water and I've also known people who have used RODI water and had high ammonia from their salt mix! They would do massive water changes and still have high ammonia until they figured it out. I used distilled water for a long time and it actually has low levels of nitrates in it, so you can never get rid of them all no matter how many water changes you do. Once you know your new water is OK I would start doing 25% water changes every other day until your ammonia is at zero. Then do a 25% water change every week (forever). I don't ever like to do a water change more than 50% all at once, even at 50% the shock can be lethal, especially if you don't have your temperature and salinity just right. And especially if you have an old tank that you never did a water change on and the pH is real acidic. The pH shock alone could kill. I'd recommend 25% every other day at most and 50% only in dire emergencies. Personally I like hermit crabs and snails as they clean up everything in the tank real nice. And if something dies they eat it before it decomposes and stinks up the place. You could always trade them with fellow reefers for plants and frags too. By the way, I've never rinsed my frozen food.
  14. Best way to add salt?

    I'd say anything in the range of 1.022 to 1.0265 is OK. Actually most oceans are 1.026 and most people keep their reefs at 1.025, but I've kept mine at 1.022 for quite some time. I've decided to bring my salinity up as well so I just mix 1.025 before a water change. If you keep up with 25% or more per week you can change it pretty fast by simply adjusting your new water. I wouldn't play with the temperature thing. Not only is it dangerous to your sensitive corals, the salinity changes with temperature. Better to go buy a cheap heater and set it at your tank temp and forget it.
  15. First Loss

    I had a percula clown jump in the back chamber of my JBJ 6 gallon nanocube. Luckily I was looking for him and couldn't find him and started looking around. He was in the chamber with the pump fighting the current. I finally got him out and into the main tank. I've read where sometimes they will jump on a pile of floss in the back, that's why I try to keep some head space in all my chambers just in case they get depressed and try to go off the deep end LOL.