First Salt (Reef) Tank - 30 Gallon
After having kept numerous freshwater tanks, I have decided to start up my first saltwater tank using an empty 30 gallon that wasn't being used for anything currently. It is currently cycling (initial setup was 6 days ago) and has about 40 lbs of live rock supposedly pre-cured from a lfs, and 30 lbs of aragonite live sand (which came from pre-packaged bags). I have a Marineland MaxiJet 600 in circulation mode (instead of powerhead mode) which is rated to push 750 gph. I also have two old Aquaclear HOB's (a 20 and a 30) with no media I put on to circulate water before I got the Maxijet. I plan initially to perform weekly water changes of about 5 gallons instead of getting a Protein Skimmer, though in the future I may add one. I plan on keeping fish as well as a variety of corals, and have a 6-bulb T5 coming (6x39W bulbs [3x10k, 3xActinic] with 4 LED moonlights).
My current water parameters (as tested yesterday) are:
pH - 8.0
Ammonia - 1.5
Nitrite - ~0 (may have been slightly high, but not to the second color on the test kit)
Nitrate - 40
KH - 10 degrees
Ca - 400
PO4 - 1.0
(Test kits used were Tetra for pH, Ammonia, Nitrite, and API Reef Master set for Nitrate, KH, Ca, and PO4)
I do not currently know the salinity as the hydrometer I purchased will not give me an accurate measure (it drastically changes every time I test, even if immediately repeated; I do have a refractometer ordered). The water was purchased from my LFS pre-mixed so I assume it's at least close to where it should be, but I forgot to ask when I bought it and haven't been back in yet.
pH seems a little low to me, but is it low enough I need to concern myself with it? If so, what is the best method for raising it higher? I don't want to use buffers, I would want something to permanently take care of it.
I haven't yet decided on the stocking of the tank. I am assuming my wife will want for me to put a clownfish or two in there, which I would lean towards an Ocellaris over a Percula, but am open to thoughts concerning this. Other potential fish I am interested in include:
Carpenter's Flasher Wrasse
White Banded Possum Wrasse or Tanaka Pygmy Wrasse
Purple or Helfrich's Firefish
Yellow Watchman or Wheeler's Shrimp Goby
Court Jester Goby
Gold Assessor Basslet
Yellowtail Blue Damsel
I certainly would not put all of these in there, but am open to thoughts, suggestions, concerns, etc. about any of these fish. I would also ideally like to have a few shrimp in there, but that is not a necessity.
I look forward to hearing any advice or feedback from experienced reef keepers.
I wouldn't be to concerned about the 8 on the PH. Its not bad.
Your set-up seems sound and you've done your homework.
Low pH: Causes and Cures by Randy Holmes-Farley - Reefkeeping.com
Thanks, that's what I was hoping with the pH.
Anybody have any thoughts on the fish list? Any I should stay away from, any that are super cool that I should definitely look harder at, any that I don't have on there that I should?
I have a pair of ocellaris clowns a royal gramma and a firefish in my tank and they're all great fish. Nice and peaceful, they all get along, don't bother corals, clowns are great friendly fish that are fun to watch. I got a purple Dotty back last week and he was awful. Chased everything from the first five minutes in the tank, thought he was going to kill my gramma. IMO they aren't a good choice for a community aquarium unless you have bigger meaner fish. I also had a pair of damsel fish that chased either incessantly but they weren't bad to my other fish. I'm also kinda new to this but these are the problems I've had with fish do far.
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Re-tested my water yesterday and ammonia and nitrites were both back down to 0, so I took that to mean the live rock was well cured and I am cycled. Picked up a small CUC today of 5 snails and 5 hermits (though I'm not convinced a few of the snails are alive...). Will that be enough or should I add a few more snails?
Also, my plan for my next step is after my new light fixture comes in (hopefully later this week) to start putting in some coral frags and then add my first fish about two weeks later. Is there any advantage to coral first vs fish first?
I'd wait a few more weeks before introducing Corals, they are a bit finicky and your system is so new. I'd add the fish first, and not to many if you are planning on Corals. Also your other numbers are not in line for Corals either. You'll need Nitrates under 10, under 5 for SPS, Magnesium tests from 1200-1400, and your Calcium 420 to 460, ALK between 8-10, and of course Phosphates at 0.
Added fish yesterday. Got two TR Ocellaris Clowns, an Orchid Dottyback, and a Purple Firefish, in addition to some more snails. I was a little worried if this would be too much, but thehe Clowns and Dottyback are still very small so I think it will be ok. Not planning on any more fish anytime soon so I can ensure the tank is stable.
I did test the water today and got the following:
pH - 7.8-ish (was lighter than 8, but darker than 7.6 on my test kit)
Ammonia - 0
Nitrite - 0
Nitrate - 40 (Water change coming soon...)
KH - 8.5
Ca - 40
PO4 - .25
Salinity 1.022 (Refractometer came into the mail yesterday)
My current concerns are the falling alkalinity/pH. I don't think either is completely terrible yet, but they are moving into uncomfortable territory. I know these two parameters are related, so if I stabilize one they should both fix, correct? What is the best way to address these?
Also, I want to raise the salinity to prepare for when my tank is ready for corals. My thoughts on how to do this is to replenish the evaporation with prepared salt water instead of RODI until the salinity is high enough (I will shoot for 1.025).
I look forward to any feedback.
I'm sure reef could give you better advice but I think a water change is in order shortly. Freshening up that water will replace the buffers that occur in sea water and keep the pH up and stable. As far as raising the salinity I did the same thing over the course of a week and I just didn't really top off until I reached the desired salinity and then added enough new salt water to fill my tank back up in a water change. I know raising the salinity quickly is bad.
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