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Keats 02-25-2009 08:38 PM

Rookie is confused about the cycle process
I am a beginner in the saltwater hobby and new to this forum and have a few questions for you experts. Let me start by telling you about my set up. I have a 95 gallon FOWLR, Aggregate sand 60lbs, 30lbs LR,40lbs base rock,20 gallon wet/dry filtration, no skimmer or uv steralizer yet. I started cycle 3 1/2 weeks ago with the LR and with 2 yellow tail damsels and 1 Chromis as instructed by LFS to help cycle process. About 1 week ago had my water tested @ LFS and was told my tank cycled and could add a fish or 2. So I purchased a yellow tang and I inherited a clarkie clown from a friend who couldn't have him in his tank anymore (getting picked on). All my fish are doing fine, eating etc. today I noticed an algea bloom on my sand and LR which I assume are Diatoms? While reading other posts about the diatoms have noticed many members instructing others not to add fish until after this happens. Did I jump the gun and add fish too soon? I want to do this right, and thought I was, according to LFS. Are my fish going to be O.K. during this diatom process. I was also told my salinity should be @ 1.016-1.018 for FOWLR but every post I found here says somewhere about 1.022-1.025? I don't have inverts but am considering getting some snails or cleaners for the algea, but was told to have inverts my Salinity should be higher? What do I do? Thanks

Kellsindell 02-26-2009 08:32 AM

Welcome to the forum!

As for the whole cycle process Pasfur can give you much more insight on it but i can lay down the basics.

The cycle is getting the correct bacteria in the tank to grow. Diatomes are a sure sign that the tank cycle is complete, but you can also get this checked out by testing your water and seeing the Nitrite, Nitrate, and Ammonia lvls. They are going to spike, then drop to 0 one then another. Once this is complete your diatomes will start to grow in.

You did well to wait for as long as you did before you added any more fish to the tank. Damsels are ok, but they will get increasingly aggressive as they get larger, so you may want to look into getting rid of them. Rou really shouldn't have added any fish until after the bloom of diatomes, but it's done and i hope they survive. Since they were already in an established tank and not shipped halfway around the USA and put into an LFS, they should be healthy.

The SG of the tank should be 1.024-1.026 for a "REEF" now for a FOWLR it can be lower then that. i'd personally would say 1.018-1.020. I have kept many fish at that lvl of salinity and have had much success. Others can give you more insight on this matter though as i'm mainly a reefer rather then a FOWLER'

you really need to get yourself a decent skimmer. This will aid you in the long run and increase the amount of success you have in this hobby. I didn't see if you have a sump/refugium, but if you do then that's where you want to put the skimmer, if not, you need to look into getting one or you'll need to get a hang on back skimmer.

No bio-wheels, no canisters, no hangon filters, skimmers will do this work and will not cause any potential harm to the tank.

Pasfur 02-26-2009 08:19 PM

I am so torn on this answer. The LFS is teaching you "What Can I Get Away With?". I would much rather discuss "How Can I Be Successful Long Term?"

Yes, your tank is "cycled", in terms of having enough of a bacterial population to convert ammonia into nitrite and nitrite into Nitrate. This is a nice step and you can certainly add one of two sturdy fish at this point. I think your selection of a Yellow Tang was a horrible choice, because it is not at all disease resistant, and becomes very territorial towards new fish additions. I would have waited for the aquarium to mature further and added a Tang at a later date. Fortunately the Yellow Tang is a hardy fish, even if often an ich magnet, and should be ok.

I did not hear you say anything about a quarantine tank. At this point, having chosen not to quarantine, and further increasing the risk by adding fish to an aquarium which is not yet 4 weeks old, you need to sit back and wait for 4 to 6 weeks before adding another fish. The goal in this hobby is to be patient to ensure long term success.

Use the next month to set up a 10 gallon quarantine tank with a sponge filter and heater. You can run the sponge filter in your 90 gallon for 3 weeks to seed the bacteria prior to moving it into the 10 gallon quarantine. This option is often skipped by beginners, but is almost never skipped by experienced marine hobbyists. There is a reason why those with experience suggest a quarantine period.

Moving on...

We need to identify a long term goal. If this tank is to remain a FOWLR, then we may be able to modify your sump slightly to be successful without many changes. The biggest change needs to be the addition of a protein skimmer. This is simply not an option. The protein skimmer is the life of a saltwater aquarium. It allows you to keep Nitrates low, alkalintiy and calcium levels stable, and minimize swings in pH. The stability a skimmer brings to the water quality allows for long term success. You NEED a skimmer. The most imporant decision you make when setting up a marine aquarium is WHAT skimmer to buy.

Please post some pictures of your tank so we can get a feel for what is going on. Pictures of your wet dry filter would be especially helpful. We need to get the water flowing thru a protein skimmer BEFORE it enters the biofilter.

Keats 02-26-2009 10:19 PM

Thanks guys, I appreciate your time and info. I do plan on adding a skimmer very soon, I have a sump it will fit in. I will try to post pics and get your opinion before doing so. I do want to start a QT also, I will be looking for one soon. I plan on keeping this tank a FOWLR tank and have no intrest in a reef at this time. I won't be adding any more fish until I get everything established with skimmer, QT etc. I think I should look for new LFS since the info they are giving me seems to be misleading? The manager there suggested a Yellow tang, said they do well in a community tank? but did not inform me it's probably not a good fish to add 1st. I just bought a marine fishes book and test kit today (was having LFS test water for past 3 1/2 weeks) all levels are good. Thanks again.

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