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jeaninel 10-20-2009 09:47 PM

New to saltwater need advice
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Hi guys,
Yesterday I was given a free saltwater tank complete with fish. It was my niece's boyfriends tank and he left and abandoned the tank about 3 weeks ago. She did not know how to take care of it and didn't want it so asked if I would take it. Now, I've kept freshwater fish for over 15 years but I've never done SW. So I'm here looking for advice from my salty FF friends.

Here's the details on the tank. It's a 20 gallon tank with a Fluval 105 cannister filter. There's also an airstone and a small powerhead for circulation. There's about 15-20 lbs of rock (I was told it was live) and about 1/2" of sand (don't know what kind). The fish are 1 Ocellaris Clownfish (about 1-1/2"), 3 Blue Green Chromis (2"), 1 Yellowtail Damsel (1"), 1 what I think is an Azure Blue Damsel (2"), and some kind of a Butterfly fish (3"). This seems kind of overstocked to me. I did some tests today and here are the results:

Ph: 7.8 (too low?)
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: Waaayyy too high!! Somewhere between 80-160 too hard to discern the difference on the card
Used API liquid test kit
Temp: 74F (the heater had broke, I just picked one up today and need to put it in)
Salinity 1.020 (need to adjust?)

So I have several questions:
1) I know the nitrates need to be brought way down. How much water can I change at once in a SW setup? What else can be done to bring the nitrates down?

2) What else should I be testing for? I think alkalinity and calcium?

3) Eventually I would like to get some kind of a clean up crew like snails or a shrimp. What are some easy critters that will fit into this tank?

The fish seem to have come through the move quite well and are eating good. Below are some pics I took. Can someone identify the Butterfly fish and confirm the others?

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this long post.

terryap 10-21-2009 05:16 AM

Hi I'm new to saltwater too, but one thing I know, that is not an angel fish it is a butterfly fish and they need large tanks to live in, I have a 20 gallon also, but with only one fish so far, I may add another, but I will will have more than 2 until I get a bigger tank, hope it works out well for you! I am sure the other more experienced SW members can help you out with more advice, here is a picture I found for you in regards to the butterfly fish, you may also want to check out for some useful advice on marine fish:
Tear Drop Butterflyfish

jeaninel 10-21-2009 05:37 PM

Yeah, I knew it was a Butterfly fish just didn't know which kind. I'll have to rehome him since he'll get too big for the tank. Shame cause he's so friendly. Thanks for the info.

Arkamaic 10-21-2009 06:05 PM

Welcome to SW =)

Ph needs to be higher. Closer to 8.3 ish.

Yes, you need to test for alkalinity and calcium, will allow better judgment n where your Ph should be.

Salinity is ok I think, mine is at 1.021-1.022.

As for WC, I have a 92 gallon tank, with a 15 gallon sump. I had nitrate probs earlier, and I changed 32 ish gallons and never had any problems, and the tank is happy as can be now =)

terryap 10-21-2009 06:14 PM

oops sorry, thought you mentioned Angel for some reason.....but you should check out live aquaria lots of info and the site mentions what size tank is recommended for each species and also about temperament and what foods are best suited.
what about a protein skimmer, does the tank have one ?

jeaninel 10-22-2009 01:23 AM

No, no protein skimmer. How are you liking the Seaclone 100? And if I may ask, how much did you pay for it?

Ark, Thanks for the info. I'll try a 30% change. Should I be using RO water for water changes? Once nitrates are under control what is the usual amount for water changes and how often ? I do weekly 25-30% changes on my freshwater tanks. Is weekly needed for salt also?

terryap 10-22-2009 05:22 AM

Well for the size tank I have it works allright, but when I get a bigger tank, I will definately change.
but with a 20 gallon it works fairly well.
I paid 150$$ but that's in Canada ......, when I priced it online in the U.S. I beleive it was approximately 80 $$ pretty sure it was petco I saw it at. So not a bad price, and very easy 5 min. set up

I definately think you should use RO water, when I first tried this hobby a few years ago, I used regular tap water, and I am pretty sure this is where the problems started, lots of annoying algae for one...and levels where out of whack often
I buy the RO water at the local super market

Pasfur 10-22-2009 05:41 PM

ahhh.... I am in a hurry and don't have time to respond properly. I will post again in the morning. My quick word of advice is to take everything SLOWLY. AFter a move you want to allow observation time and time for the fish to settle in. I would not do any large scale water changes yet. Just sit back and wait a few weeks. Nothing much will change.

In the meanwhile, it is vital that you get an alkalinity and calcium test kit. Also, pick up Kent Marine SuperBuffer DKH and Kent Marine Liquid Calcium (calcium chloride). This will allow adjustments to be made as needed. More to follow.

I really like that Teardrop. Beautiful fish! Shame it has to go.

jeaninel 11-15-2009 08:06 PM

Here are new readings as of today 11/15:
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: Still way high, between 80-160
Ph: 8.0-8.2 (hard to tell which one on the API card)
Kh: 9
Calcium: over 520 (took 33 drops to turn color)
SG: 1.022
Temp: 76F

I believe the calcium should be between 400-500? Is it bad if it's higher? How do I adjust that if needed?
Still fighting with high nitrates. Water change day is tomorrow. Should I do more than the 20-25% I've been doing weekly? Fish are fed once a day only what they eat in about 1 minute.

Pasfur, I did pick up the Kent Marine SuperBuffer DKH and it appears it's helped raise the Ph and KH a bit. I have not picked up the liquid calcium yet. Will I still need it with such a high reading?

jeaninel 11-20-2009 12:13 AM


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