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Any advice to a newbie


ScottPierson

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Beginning of July bought 29 gal Oceanic BioCube from Aqua Dome with live sand, 20lbs live rock, 20gal their saltwater. Set it up and let it run for about 10 days. Water tested good at Aqua Dome so got 2 clownfish, a colony polyp coral, 10 little crabs and 2 snails (per Aqua Dome recommendation). Next day 1 clown fish is dead so got another. Next day both clown fish dead so got a Dottyback. Two days later Dottyback is dead. Got a Blue Damsel. Three days later it dies. Water is testing good at Aqua Dome all along. Am feeding with a frozen Cyclop-eeze freezer bar twice a day. 36 watt Actinic light is on 12 hours per day, 36 watt 10,000K Daylight bulb is on 10 hrs per day. Water temperature is 80 – 81F which seems high but the Aqua Dome folks say it should be fine. Specific gravity is 1.020 which seems a bit low but is the same as the Aqua Dome water (obviously since that is where I get it).

Stopped getting more fish for awhile after 5 deaths. I changed out 5 gal of water with Aqua Dome water, removed the filter and installed the Oceanic Bio Cube Protein Skimmer. (Not sure I should remove the filter as that filter was catching a lot of stuff and I don’t really seem to be catching much in the Protein Skimmer.)

Let things sit for a week then changed out another 5 gal of water.

That’s where I am now. I plan to let things sit for another week then change out another 5 gal of water and then add fish again to see how it goes.

Also, during this process the colony polyp coral, which looked great when I bought it has closed up about half of its buttons and the half that are still opening are pretty weak looking. About two weeks ago I began to add Iodide at the rate of about 2.5ml every other day per recommendation of Aqua Dome folks. Haven’t seen any improvement yet that I can notice but not looking worse either.

I have also gotten a test kit so I can check my own Ammonia, pH, Nitrite and Nitrate levels. My most recent readings are Ammonia=0, pH=8.0, Nitrite=0, Nitrate=5-10. Should I get something like API Proper pH to get the pH to 8.2? Also bought a test kit for Iodine/Iodide but haven’t checked my levels with this yet.

If anybody sees something really stupid that I am doing or that I am not doing that is making the fish die or stressing the colony polyp I’d appreciate the advice. I hate the fact that I am killing so many of these little guys. Scott

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First off: Welcome! Post a pic of the tank in the FTS thread in the photo forum please.

On to your questions:

Sounds like you went through the cycle and it's probably done now.

Raise your SG. 1.020 is fine for fish, not so much for corals and inverts.

I'd stop dosing Iodide, water changes should be replacing trace elements. You really only need to worry about Ca/Mag/Alk. Get test kits for those.

I wouldn't worry too much about your pH. 8 should be fine.

Stability is more important than hitting some magical perfect number. Most of the time.

If you can, get a RODI setup and start making your own water. Not super important with a 29, but you can get correct SG and have access to emergency water at 3am on a Sunday if you ever need it.

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What test kits are you using? I suggest the seachem kits for Mag & calc. I also suggest Elos for alk. You can Epsom salt (pharmacutical grade at HEB) to raise your mag. If you don't have a cal reactor I suggest dosing with a two part solution (I use B-ionics). Book mark this page (Reef Chemistry). It is a great chemical additive calculator. A find it a little bit more accurate than the bottle lables.

On the iodine I use on capful per 25 gallons every third day (for the shrimps).

+1 on raising the salanity. You also may find this calculator handy. Salinity Adjustment

What are you using for top off water?

I also agree stability verses a magic number is must important.

I hope this was helpful.

Dave-

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Welcome! Sorry to hear about your troubles starting up, but it does get easier (and then more complicated). The thing I've learned is to treat it as a science. Everything is a variable, and the more variables you change at a time the more uncertain you are about what is causing what. So do this, pick one thing to focus on and change it. Then wait, see what happens, give it time to have an affect. Then move on to the next one.

IMO, with that few fish and corals you don't need to be dosing anything. If you're doing regular water changes with a good salt mix then the water change will take care of any trace elements you need. You just don't have anything in your tank yet that is really consuming these. That will change as you add more life to your tank.

Depending on what you want to keep, start with some simple, hardy fish and corals and slowly increase the load. Green Star Polyps (GSP) are cheap, hardy, and pretty to look at. You can find a few people selling them on here for $5 or so. Mushrooms are good as well. Just make sure you don't put either directly on your live rock or they can grow out of control, so put them on a small piece of rock on your sand as an "island". Xenia and some of the leathers are also generally good starters. When you introduce new corals start with them on the sand bed furthest from the light, see how they do. If you want them higher in the tank then slowly raise them over weeks so that they can acclimate.

So what I would do:

Stop dosing anything

Cut back on feeding to at most 1x per day (until you add more life you're just feeding it into your skimmer)

Remove the filter

Bring your salinity up to 1.025

Continue doing 5-10g water changes weekly.

Start logging your water conditions daily. Once they stabilize, log every other day, weekly, etc.

This will get you to a good baseline where your tank is stable.

Slowly add life. Cleaner crews (hermits, snails) are a good start and will help condition your tank.

Next I'd add some mushrooms or GSP.

If all goes well, maybe try another fish.

Let us know how things progress,

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A few other things to think about. The above advice all looks very good. +1 on getting RO water and mixing your own salt to about 1.025. For how to do it slowly here is a great link http://www.saltyzoo.com/SaltyCalcs/SalinityAdjust.php.

Your feeding of cyclop-eeze seems to be way too much for the low amount of stocking you have. I have about the same size of aquarium but with tons of added filtration and a lot higher stock level and I feed four to five times a week. I'm really suprised that you aren't seeing higher levels of nitrate with that feeding level.

For some mechanical filtration I've been using the carbon/phosphate pads that you can cut to size. They are pretty cheap and do a good job of filtering the gunk out. Also, you son't have to worry about cleaning the sponge every week as I just toss them out and cut a new one with each water change. The pads also help your chemical filtration pretty effectively so that is a plus. Also it can go below the skimmer in the first chamber. Just add a little chunk of egg crate to the bottom to stop the filter pads from migrating to the second chamber.

What kind of acclimation process are you using on your new fishies? You might want to try the drip method just to see if that is the problem. Especially if you decide to move your salt up to 1.025. Just put the fish with water in a bucket that is propped up a bit on the side. Take some cheap airline tubing and tie a couple of knots in it. Start up a siphon from your tank water and tighten the knots until you are getting 3-4 drops of water per second. Once the water in the bucket doubles throw out half the water and repeat. After that your fish should be good to go into the tank.

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A few other things to think about. The above advice all looks very good. +1 on getting RO water and mixing your own salt to about 1.025. For how to do it slowly here is a great link http://www.saltyzoo....inityAdjust.php.

Your feeding of cyclop-eeze seems to be way too much for the low amount of stocking you have. I have about the same size of aquarium but with tons of added filtration and a lot higher stock level and I feed four to five times a week. I'm really suprised that you aren't seeing higher levels of nitrate with that feeding level.

For some mechanical filtration I've been using the carbon/phosphate pads that you can cut to size. They are pretty cheap and do a good job of filtering the gunk out. Also, you son't have to worry about cleaning the sponge every week as I just toss them out and cut a new one with each water change. The pads also help your chemical filtration pretty effectively so that is a plus. Also it can go below the skimmer in the first chamber. Just add a little chunk of egg crate to the bottom to stop the filter pads from migrating to the second chamber.

What kind of acclimation process are you using on your new fishies? You might want to try the drip method just to see if that is the problem. Especially if you decide to move your salt up to 1.025. Just put the fish with water in a bucket that is propped up a bit on the side. Take some cheap airline tubing and tie a couple of knots in it. Start up a siphon from your tank water and tighten the knots until you are getting 3-4 drops of water per second. Once the water in the bucket doubles throw out half the water and repeat. After that your fish should be good to go into the tank.

I was just thinking acclimation too...

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Hey, all…thanks for the quick and helpful replies. I can tell that this website/forum is going to make this hobby even more fun!

I’ll try to post a picture of my tank with this post.

Will stop dosing the Iodide and will get test kits for Ca/Mag/Alk.

Will cut way back on feeding as recommended by several

Dave:I am using the API Saltwater Master Test Kit – pH, Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate. Also have the Seachem kit for Iodine & Iodide. I top off with RO water I bought from Aqua Dome. Not yet to the point of making my own yet.

Zarathustra2 & Obiji: For my first two fish I did almost no acclimation. Just floated the bag for 15 minutes and then released. In later tries I did a better job by gradually adding some of my tank water to the bag and then putting just the fish into the tank and not the water. Will do the more thorough approach suggested of the drip method with the next fish.

I will work on raising the spg to 1.025. the picture of my tank shows my colony polyp pretty well I think. It looked great when I got it. Looks terrible now. If I raise the spg and keep a stable tank as suggested with regular water changes will it revive itself?

Any other suggestions after seeing the photo of my tank? Scottpost-1039-12494189552369_thumb.jpg

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Those polyps should revive with your SG being closer to normal.

You can use API kits for the Alk/Ca testing, but if you want to splurge(it's only money right?) get an Elos or Salifert. I'd get an Elos/Sera/Salifert for the Mg. Aquatek has Elos and Sera.

I forgot to mention the acclimation issue, glad others did. Slow acclimation is needed for the fish and even slower is needed for inverts(snails/crabs/shrimp).

Also, without any fish in there you don't need to feed at all. Although dropping in a few pellets every 3 days wont hurt and will keep the cycle going and keep your crabs/snails happy too, assuming they are in there still.

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Hey, all…thanks for the quick and helpful replies. I can tell that this website/forum is going to make this hobby even more fun!

I'll try to post a picture of my tank with this post.

Will stop dosing the Iodide and will get test kits for Ca/Mag/Alk.

Will cut way back on feeding as recommended by several

Dave:I am using the API Saltwater Master Test Kit – pH, Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate. Also have the Seachem kit for Iodine & Iodide. I top off with RO water I bought from Aqua Dome. Not yet to the point of making my own yet.

Zarathustra2 & Obiji: For my first two fish I did almost no acclimation. Just floated the bag for 15 minutes and then released. In later tries I did a better job by gradually adding some of my tank water to the bag and then putting just the fish into the tank and not the water. Will do the more thorough approach suggested of the drip method with the next fish.

I will work on raising the spg to 1.025. the picture of my tank shows my colony polyp pretty well I think. It looked great when I got it. Looks terrible now. If I raise the spg and keep a stable tank as suggested with regular water changes will it revive itself?

Any other suggestions after seeing the photo of my tank? Scott

Looking at your tank, what are you using for filtration, also I do not see any waterflow in their either. How many times do you circulate your water in the tank? I beleive the min. recommendation is 10x per gallon.

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As an add on to the filtration question, how much live rock is there in that. 1-1.5# per gallon is the general recommendation and many do more like 2 for a reef. About 40% of my tank is Live Rock.

That being said I think you are on the right track. First setup is always pretty hard and it sounds like you got a bad case of it but keep at it and it will work out. You're doing the right thing by researching and asking questions.

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Obiji: My tank is a nanocube type so the water pump and protein skimmer are enclosed in the back. Water circulation seems pretty strong but don't know exactly what it is. How would I tell that?

Zarathustra2: I have 20# of live rock. That's want was recommended when I got the tank. Also, thanks for the tip on how to make a drip for the acclimation process. I have read about doing a slow drip but wasn't sure how to practically implement that concept. Scott

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Your rock should be fine as far as the problem you are facing. You'll end up picking up more as you get frags. You also might want to check with prof and get some "dead rock" to add to your current setup. Its a lot cheaper and will get seeded by the rest of the rock over time. For a reef I would be looking at at least 40 pounds but that's more for long term health and certainly shouldn't be killing off fish like you are seeing.

For the drip I forgot to mention, get one of the $1.99 veggie clips to hold the tube in the tank with.

For your pump you just need to know the Gallons Per Hour (GPH) and divide by the size of your tank. Recommended for soft corals/polyps is 10x water flow or higher. So your tank water is being filtered through your system 10 times per hour or more.

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Your rock should be fine as far as the problem you are facing. You'll end up picking up more as you get frags. You also might want to check with prof and get some "dead rock" to add to your current setup. Its a lot cheaper and will get seeded by the rest of the rock over time. For a reef I would be looking at at least 40 pounds but that's more for long term health and certainly shouldn't be killing off fish like you are seeing.

For the drip I forgot to mention, get one of the $1.99 veggie clips to hold the tube in the tank with.

For your pump you just need to know the Gallons Per Hour (GPH) and divide by the size of your tank. Recommended for soft corals/polyps is 10x water flow or higher. So your tank water is being filtered through your system 10 times per hour or more.

You stole my thunder laugh.gif

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All the advice in this thread is dead on. The only thing that I can say is you can never go to slow in this hobby. I have had my tank up right at 6 months and I have just added my second fish and have not added a single frag yet. I started with cured rock from mike delgados tank and had a very small cycle but I have just spent the last 6 months making sure that I had everything stable and fixing the problems as they come up.

It is much easier to fix an issue when you dont have any livestock in the tank. I fully expect it to take close to a year for my tank to be fully stocked but I hope by doing this that my losses will be very minimal.

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Probably a separate thread but I decided to not get them until I could have a similar setup (a seahorse only tank.) Was thinking about putting sea horse in a refugium but they need cooler waters than what we usually run in reef tanks. Seems to really need a species specific tank for the most part. No corals because of temp. And the expensive ones are worth it so you know they are captive bred and feeding on mysis.

/end threadjack

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