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Trying my Luck in the Saltwater World

This is a discussion on Trying my Luck in the Saltwater World within the Beginner Saltwater Aquariums forums, part of the Saltwater Fish and Coral Reef Tanks category; --> Originally Posted by Pasfur I just saw this comment. I want to point out that there is a difference in pH buffering and buffering ...

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Trying my Luck in the Saltwater World
Old 11-27-2009, 10:03 AM   #31
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pasfur View Post
I just saw this comment. I want to point out that there is a difference in pH buffering and buffering to build alkalinity and calcium levels. The monitoring of alkalinity and calcium, and adding buffers and supplements, is a vital part of saltwater aquarium maintenance. Neglecting to account for the importance of this aspect of marine aquarium care is very ill advised.
That's definitely strange, because i've asked my LFS as well as a lot of my friends and colleagues about buffering for both, and they've never had to do that. Alkalinity and calcium should be supplemented by the environment in the tank.

Both PH and Alk, and Calcium shouldn't be touched. They've never had to do it, and just had to maintain their upkeep in waterchanges as well as just make sure the water tested out okay. This is coming from guys who were more than 10 years in experience, so *shrugs*. But I take advice when I see it and testing will always be done.
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Old 11-27-2009, 10:18 AM   #32
 
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This is something that I have seen debated, but in my area there is no debate; we use supplements and buffers.

The Calcium provided by aragonite sand and Live Rock simply is not enough to negate supplements and buffers. And since Water Changes only replace between 10-30% of the water at a time, it would be safe to assume that only 10-30% of used calcium is being replaced (relatively speaking of course).

Here is a link that Pasfur posted in another thread that will help to justify supplements and buffers:

Aquarium Chemistry: The Carbonate System in the Aquarium, and the Ocean, Part III: Methods Available to the Aquarist.
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Old 11-27-2009, 07:40 PM   #33
 
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Originally Posted by wake49 View Post
This is something that I have seen debated, but in my area there is no debate; we use supplements and buffers.

The Calcium provided by aragonite sand and Live Rock simply is not enough to negate supplements and buffers. And since Water Changes only replace between 10-30% of the water at a time, it would be safe to assume that only 10-30% of used calcium is being replaced (relatively speaking of course).

Here is a link that Pasfur posted in another thread that will help to justify supplements and buffers:

Aquarium Chemistry: The Carbonate System in the Aquarium, and the Ocean, Part III: Methods Available to the Aquarist.
skimmed over it -- not a bad read, i'm going to look into this further

let's say for example I do purchase these things, what would be the recommended dose? and what are the names for these "buffers"

-------------------------------
I got a question about live rock though, when do you actually drop them into the tank? I just bought 60 lbs of "live" argonite sand, and I'm waiting for my tank to come in.

I don't know when I should buy actual live rock and if it's cured already can I just drop it in or do I wait?

What are the exact steps in getting it setup (not in decor terms, but in a timeline) if it's not cured, what to do? if it is cured, what to do? Do I "pre" clean by scrubbing it with salt water? do I leave it as is? just wanted to figure it out.

hah, one other question, if I have live sand, do I have to use live rock? or can I use dry rocks and have it be seeded with live sand? So many minute questions -- so little time.

Last edited by CamryDS; 11-27-2009 at 07:54 PM..
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Old 11-28-2009, 02:17 AM   #34
 
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Sorry it took me so long to get back here to answer your questions about the biocube. I don't use a skimmer in mine, and it runs very quiet by my standards. My freshwater tanks make about the same amount of "noise" as the cube, but I don't find any of that type of noise as bothersome. Each of my tanks is set at a specific water line so as to vary the waterfall sound effects I find peaceful. If I were to top them all off completely, which I do from time to time... I don't hear them unless I'm standing over them. The biocube runs an overflow system, so I have to keep that full.

My set up is pretty basic. I use the light fixtures that came built into the cover, will have to check with my hubby, but I don't think he changed out the bulbs when we set it up... so standard factory bulbs... I don't do actual water changes at this point because there are only corals, shrimps, hermits, and snails in the tank right now. When the time comes to add the pipefish I want, I will do regular weekly water changes if I see a need.
Basically this is my easiest tank, I add water when it evaporates and I add food for the corals and shrimp, and I scrape the coraline algae from the glass about once/month because it grows so fast. Once/month hubby doses with whatever is in his little blue bottle (I can find out if you need to know... I know its something to promote coraline growth) and thats it. I enjoy it, its not "work". The only thing I use for filter media in the built in sump system is live rock. My water is hard out of the tap, but I do use RO water from our home RO/DI system. We have it hardlined into the house with a tap of its own, the output/waste water goes right into the basement sump system of our house. We change the filters as needed. That is all the work I invest in that tank, and the pictures I posted here speak for themselves. My corals & mushrooms, and red grapes grow so fast I can't keep up with them. Lately I do find myself trimming things out about once every 2 wks to deal with overgrowth, which is what prompted me to include those things as prep for your tank. This tank is about 7 months old now. Even the lights are on the timer, so the only time I bother with that is during daylight savings time.

The biocube set up makes things quite easy for someone who desires a small tank that is easy to maintain, and less expensive that a standard tank because it doesn't require all of the extras that most standardized tanks require to be as successful and "easy" to care for. That is what these tanks were designed to do... make it easy for anyone to keep it healthy if they don't overstock it and understand the environment that makes it function as it does.

I hope this helps.
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Old 11-29-2009, 07:45 PM   #35
 
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Originally Posted by bettababy View Post
Sorry it took me so long to get back here to answer your questions about the biocube. I don't use a skimmer in mine, and it runs very quiet by my standards. My freshwater tanks make about the same amount of "noise" as the cube, but I don't find any of that type of noise as bothersome. Each of my tanks is set at a specific water line so as to vary the waterfall sound effects I find peaceful. If I were to top them all off completely, which I do from time to time... I don't hear them unless I'm standing over them. The biocube runs an overflow system, so I have to keep that full.

My set up is pretty basic. I use the light fixtures that came built into the cover, will have to check with my hubby, but I don't think he changed out the bulbs when we set it up... so standard factory bulbs... I don't do actual water changes at this point because there are only corals, shrimps, hermits, and snails in the tank right now. When the time comes to add the pipefish I want, I will do regular weekly water changes if I see a need.
Basically this is my easiest tank, I add water when it evaporates and I add food for the corals and shrimp, and I scrape the coraline algae from the glass about once/month because it grows so fast. Once/month hubby doses with whatever is in his little blue bottle (I can find out if you need to know... I know its something to promote coraline growth) and thats it. I enjoy it, its not "work". The only thing I use for filter media in the built in sump system is live rock. My water is hard out of the tap, but I do use RO water from our home RO/DI system. We have it hardlined into the house with a tap of its own, the output/waste water goes right into the basement sump system of our house. We change the filters as needed. That is all the work I invest in that tank, and the pictures I posted here speak for themselves. My corals & mushrooms, and red grapes grow so fast I can't keep up with them. Lately I do find myself trimming things out about once every 2 wks to deal with overgrowth, which is what prompted me to include those things as prep for your tank. This tank is about 7 months old now. Even the lights are on the timer, so the only time I bother with that is during daylight savings time.

The biocube set up makes things quite easy for someone who desires a small tank that is easy to maintain, and less expensive that a standard tank because it doesn't require all of the extras that most standardized tanks require to be as successful and "easy" to care for. That is what these tanks were designed to do... make it easy for anyone to keep it healthy if they don't overstock it and understand the environment that makes it function as it does.

I hope this helps.
Ahh it sounds like the system is pretty well maintained then. Since you only have the biocube, that's what i'm planning to do at that point. question about sand though. I've heard to bed the sand and then lay out rock, then I see other sites that don't care which order.

Also with Rocks, is it necessary for me to have live rock at this point? or do I just get dry rock and then use my live sand to seed it? do I feed the tank while it's curing or does it find it's own nutrients?

I've also purchased live rock, cured -- I'm not even sure what the next step is at this point 30lbs of live rock on the way. Ahh well -- anyway these are the simple questions so far that's going through my head.
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Old 11-29-2009, 07:51 PM   #36
 
At this point, I would say go ahead and add the sand, and then the live rock when you get it, since it will be cured already, I believe you should add it right away, you will be letting the whole system sit for a while anyways, so suggest you keep testing for the next couple of weeks until all levels are in check. I added my substrate first on my 20 G and then the live rock and everything is doing excellent.
post some pics, can't wait to see them
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Old 11-30-2009, 08:39 AM   #37
 
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At this point, I would say go ahead and add the sand, and then the live rock when you get it, since it will be cured already, I believe you should add it right away, you will be letting the whole system sit for a while anyways, so suggest you keep testing for the next couple of weeks until all levels are in check. I added my substrate first on my 20 G and then the live rock and everything is doing excellent.
post some pics, can't wait to see them
Definitely will post pics once I get the system up and running. I got lots of questions, just because it's my 1st saltwater tank and I'm throwing out all my previous freshwater info and just diving into this brand new.

I got my my aragonite sand (live) from caribsea. I got about 60 lbs of it for 88. not too bad, but quiet expensive.

I plan to have it all setup before wednesday =). I'll update again then
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Old 12-01-2009, 01:55 AM   #38
 
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A note about the order in which to do things. The very first thing is in getting the salinity stable in the tank before adding live anything.. including rock or sand. This can take up to a week to get stable if you are mixing your saltwater at home fresh from RO/DI or tap water. If you add the rock before salinity is stable (or live sand) you will only succeed in killing all of the beneficiary stuff in both sand and rock, and the rock will go through a much heavier period of die off and likely take longer to fully cure. You will also want to make sure the temp is up to 76 - 78 before adding live rock or live sand for same reason.
The average tank will remain empty for about the first week while temp and salinity are monitored for stable safe readings.

Have you ordered a hydrometer or refractometer for measuring salinity/spg?

The other comment I'd like to make at this stage is the debate about buffering and supplements. Put simply, some people need them and others do not. It all will depend on what your specific water chemistry dictates and how quickly the contents in your tank depletes different minerals. Buffering and additives such as calcium should be entirely reliant on your tank and what your test results show.

In regards to rock before sand and sand before rock, I always do rock before sand. Especially in a reef environment, rock needs to be extremely stable when stacked. By adding rock first, the sand will then fill in around the bases of the rock structures and will add much stability you won't get any other way. Any animals that may dig, tunnel, or burrow in the sand, such as nassarius snails, sand sifting starfish, gobys, even fish... if the rock is on top of the sand, these animals then have the ability to upset the sand beneath the rock and can send it all tumbling down on themselves at any time. You might want to give that some thought before adding sand first. Once you add corals, it would be a real pity to see it all go tumbling down in the middle of the night, only to wake up and find your favorite coral in pieces, or stuck under a rock where you can't easily reach it... or worse... dead fish.

You made mention that my biocube is the only tank I have... just want to make sure I clarify, this is the only marine tank I have at present. Since moving a few yrs ago I lack the room or money to set them all back up as before. Before moving I had 8 marine tanks running, the biggest was 120 gallons. My husband and I also ran the marine dept at the store for many yrs. I just didn't want you to think I am a newbie in saltwater. I haven't been a newbie in over 15 yrs. At the store my hubby designed and buit the filtration system for the marine dept. The skimming unit was about 7 ft tall. We had a huge marine dept that thrived. The biocube is just my latest toy because I had always set up standard tanks prior to this. Also want to toss in there that I have kept tanks with and without UV, and while there is a noticable difference in how much work is involved in keeping the fish as healthy, it is not a must have. Your work without one will just mean a little bit of extra when it comes time to deciding what fish to keep that can handle the environment you are able to create and maintain.

I can't wait to see your photos!

You asked about the different types of rock to work with. Yes, you can seed dry rock from live sand, but I will warn you it can take a very long time to accomplish. The best way to work with dry rock is to mix with live rock and live sand. This will increase the diversity of the life inside the sand and rock that will thus seed the dry rock. The more dry rock you work with the longer it will take to have fully cured rock and thus a fully stable tank. A good estimate for dry rock is average 6 - 12 months to fully cure this way depending on how dense the rock is and how much bioload you have to work with for seeding. Some rock can take more than 12 months.

When considering dry rock please be careful which types of rock you select. The typical rocks found for decorating a freshwater tank are not an overall good choice for a marine tank due to the metals most of them are known to contain. In finding dry rock you would be seeking "base rock", which is former live rock that has been dried and sometimes even bleached. If you find you need to raise calcium/hardness/pH, honeycomb rock is also safe to use, but you will not get the same biofiltration from it as you will from base rock or live rock due to its density. This would also require close monitoring of calcium/hardness/pH to make sure it doesn't exceed safe levels.

I hope this has helped some. Best of luck to you. When you are ready to start a build thread, would you please post a link to it here so I can find it easily? My schedule is very limited so I don't usually have time to browse the forum when I come here. I don't want to miss out!

Thanks in advance!
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Old 12-01-2009, 02:01 AM   #39
 
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I forgot to mention something else about the live rock that is important. You asked about the difference between cured and uncured. Basically, length of time of die off and length of time before the tank is ready for animals. Please be aware that any rock, even if listed as cured, will go through some period of die off when it is moved from one tank to another. The environments and water chemistry changes and air exposure during moving also makes a difference. If you get your rock before the tank is ready for it, open the boxes up and pour some saltwater over the newspaper packing, but don't uncover the rock.... then close it back up. Do this at least once or twice/day to keep it wet. It doesn't need to be submerged as long as it stays damp. You can keep it this way for quite a long time before you have to worry about extensive die off.

One of the things the live rock contributes to the cycling of the tank is that the die off from the rock introduces most of your ammonia, which in turn begins your cycle.

Also a note about live sand. If you choose to go that route, pour out any liquid in the bag before putting the sand into the tank, but do not rinse the sand in anything before it goes into the tank. If you rinse it that rinses away all of the benefit of it being live sand. Much of the liquid will be ammonia by the time a bag of sand is open, so it is safe to pour this off as long as the sand is not allowed to dry out. A sealed bag of live sand, left unopened, is still usable 6 months to a yr later, as long as it doesn't dry out. The good stuff is still in there.

Sorry for 2 posts in a row, has been busy here and I have too many things going on at once.
Have a good night.
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Old 12-01-2009, 08:25 AM   #40
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bettababy View Post
A note about the order in which to do things. The very first thing is in getting the salinity stable in the tank before adding live anything.. including rock or sand. This can take up to a week to get stable if you are mixing your saltwater at home fresh from RO/DI or tap water. If you add the rock before salinity is stable (or live sand) you will only succeed in killing all of the beneficiary stuff in both sand and rock, and the rock will go through a much heavier period of die off and likely take longer to fully cure. You will also want to make sure the temp is up to 76 - 78 before adding live rock or live sand for same reason.
The average tank will remain empty for about the first week while temp and salinity are monitored for stable safe readings.

Have you ordered a hydrometer or refractometer for measuring salinity/spg?

The other comment I'd like to make at this stage is the debate about buffering and supplements. Put simply, some people need them and others do not. It all will depend on what your specific water chemistry dictates and how quickly the contents in your tank depletes different minerals. Buffering and additives such as calcium should be entirely reliant on your tank and what your test results show.

In regards to rock before sand and sand before rock, I always do rock before sand. Especially in a reef environment, rock needs to be extremely stable when stacked. By adding rock first, the sand will then fill in around the bases of the rock structures and will add much stability you won't get any other way. Any animals that may dig, tunnel, or burrow in the sand, such as nassarius snails, sand sifting starfish, gobys, even fish... if the rock is on top of the sand, these animals then have the ability to upset the sand beneath the rock and can send it all tumbling down on themselves at any time. You might want to give that some thought before adding sand first. Once you add corals, it would be a real pity to see it all go tumbling down in the middle of the night, only to wake up and find your favorite coral in pieces, or stuck under a rock where you can't easily reach it... or worse... dead fish.

You made mention that my biocube is the only tank I have... just want to make sure I clarify, this is the only marine tank I have at present. Since moving a few yrs ago I lack the room or money to set them all back up as before. Before moving I had 8 marine tanks running, the biggest was 120 gallons. My husband and I also ran the marine dept at the store for many yrs. I just didn't want you to think I am a newbie in saltwater. I haven't been a newbie in over 15 yrs. At the store my hubby designed and buit the filtration system for the marine dept. The skimming unit was about 7 ft tall. We had a huge marine dept that thrived. The biocube is just my latest toy because I had always set up standard tanks prior to this. Also want to toss in there that I have kept tanks with and without UV, and while there is a noticable difference in how much work is involved in keeping the fish as healthy, it is not a must have. Your work without one will just mean a little bit of extra when it comes time to deciding what fish to keep that can handle the environment you are able to create and maintain.

I can't wait to see your photos!

You asked about the different types of rock to work with. Yes, you can seed dry rock from live sand, but I will warn you it can take a very long time to accomplish. The best way to work with dry rock is to mix with live rock and live sand. This will increase the diversity of the life inside the sand and rock that will thus seed the dry rock. The more dry rock you work with the longer it will take to have fully cured rock and thus a fully stable tank. A good estimate for dry rock is average 6 - 12 months to fully cure this way depending on how dense the rock is and how much bioload you have to work with for seeding. Some rock can take more than 12 months.

When considering dry rock please be careful which types of rock you select. The typical rocks found for decorating a freshwater tank are not an overall good choice for a marine tank due to the metals most of them are known to contain. In finding dry rock you would be seeking "base rock", which is former live rock that has been dried and sometimes even bleached. If you find you need to raise calcium/hardness/pH, honeycomb rock is also safe to use, but you will not get the same biofiltration from it as you will from base rock or live rock due to its density. This would also require close monitoring of calcium/hardness/pH to make sure it doesn't exceed safe levels.

I hope this has helped some. Best of luck to you. When you are ready to start a build thread, would you please post a link to it here so I can find it easily? My schedule is very limited so I don't usually have time to browse the forum when I come here. I don't want to miss out!

Thanks in advance!
Thanks for all your advice -- it's always appreciated and informative. The reason why I mentioned the biocube, wasn't because I think you only had a biocube. I definitely didn't mean any insult about it. I definitely can tell with the amount of information you always provide that you know absolutely what you're talking about, and would never just assume that you were a newbie.

Your factful responses encouraged me to pick a biocube up and now i'm in the mix with it. my rocks are luckily coming later than my tank, so i'll have everything ready in a timely manor. as far as the sand, i'll follow your advice for it.

I will be purchasing a meter, but since I don't even have a tank yet I figure i'll 1st use saltwater readily mixed from my lfs. I'll then start buying saltmix from the LFS and R/O water from my local supermarket.

As far as bioload, I don't think it'll be too bad, with 2 clown fish and 1 flame angel. I heard mushrooms as well as some coral goes well, I'll have questions about those later.

Thank you so much for answering my quesiton about sand or rock 1st. That boggled my mind for a while, and not only have you provided a lot of important factual info, but also given me a lot more to read on (which i'm happy about). thanks again and again for helping me out =D
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