New tank is setup. What next?
My 46 bow is currently setup. I have 25 pounds of base rock and 15 pounds of live rock (which has had some die off due to me wasting 2 days in the setup process - they were in buckets with salt water so I don't know how bad of a die off I had).
I have two koralia 2s running as well as the heater and my lights (12 hours a day - 10k and actinic). My protein skimmer is setup but I haven't started running it yet. I figured I would give everything a day or two to settle in.
When do I start the protein skimmer?
When do I start the carbon filter?
What should I expect to see during the next few weeks/months? This is all new to me. I have been keeping FW fish (discus, angels, cichlids, etc. for 30 years) so what should I expect? I have read several books on starting marine aquariums but I honestly feel the best advice comes from people that you can engage in a conversation with who have seen this stuff first hand.
When do I start testing the water and salinity? Obviously I want to wait a day or so for everything to settle to get true measurements.
Am I correct in saying that I should not do any water changes at this point... just top the water off with RO water?
I decided that since I am moving sometime next year (house going on the market sometime early next year) I am going to keep this setup as a simple lightly stocked fowler so I only have to worry about moving 3 or so fish... and we are moving locally or I would just hold off completely.
Very good so far.
If you start running the Protein Skimmer now, it might not be collecting anything as there are no real organics built up yet. But this will give the Skimmer time to break in. What kind of skimmer was it again?
Test the water every day, or at least every other day until you see a steady drop in Nitrites and Ammonia. Nitrates will start to show up, hopefully <5ppm. Running the skimmer might help keep the Nitrate level down. Test salinity when you mix the water, then every once in a while to make sure your losing water to evaporation and not a leak.
Next wait for a diatom bloom. It looks like dusty, rust colored algae coating the live rock and sand. After this recedes, coraline algae should start to cover the glass and rocks. This is more purple and almost looks flaky.
After the diatom bloom you will start to see microfauna in the sand, on the rocks and on the glass. This microfauna is copepods, amphipods and small crustaceons of the like. They copepods appear as little white dots that are kind of "jumping" around the glass, and the amphipods look like minature shrimp. When this microfauna has populated your tank, you are then ready for ONE fish.
Let us know step-by-step and we'll help guide you through the proccess. Also if you have a camera, post pics in the Saltwater Pictures and Videos section, so we can see what is going on first hand.
The skimmer is a needle wheel 65 (used as a HOB).
Everything but the protein skimmer and the carbon filter have been running for 48 hours. I will start the protein skimmer tomorrow and will begin my water testing. My salinity with the deep six is coming up at 1.30 (I used premixed water so I am sure that I will get a more accurate reading with a refractometer - will ). I will calibrate the refractometer in the morning to get a better reading.
I used the Needle Wheel 65 on a 46 bow and was very happy with it.
I would also encourage you to purchase an alkalinity and calcium test kit at some point in the next week or two. When the diatom bloom occurs, you will want to begin testing for both every week, or twice weekly. Maintaining correct alkalinity and calcium will be beneficial for encouraging coraline algae growth. In addition, these two test are the most valuable tools you have for determining the necessity and size of water changes going forward.
I aim to maintain my alkalinity at 8 to 12 dkh and calcium at 400 to 460 ppm. This applies to both my 54 reef and 180 FOWLR. I use Kent Marine Superbuffer DKH for alkalinity supplementation, and Kent Marine Liquid Calcium (calcium chloride) for calcium additions. Weekly testing is sufficient on lightly stocked systems.
Another consideration at this point is your sand bed depth. Pictures would be very helpful.
I have yet to start my protein skimmer or my carbon filter yet. Should these be running at this point? I have 1 10k white and 1 10k actinic currently running on the tank for 12 hours a day. I still need to calibrate my refractometer. The deep six is measuring salinity at 1.29 (I bought premixed water so I doubt this is accurate).
As a side note I will be out of the country for 2.5 weeks. I have a friend of mine coming over to care for my discus and angels. All I plan on letting him do is top off the system with RO water.
Day 5 after setup and I see this brownish, greenish fur developing on the live rocks. I will post some pictures this evening. Starting a thread about a hitchhiker that found its way into my tank in the inverts section. :)
I would not turn on the skimmer or begin the use of activated carbon until after you return home. The skimmer could be prone to filling very rapidly during the initial stages, and the carbon bag will require the prefilter pads to be rinsed daily. No harm in waiting until you return.
Don't worry about algae or diatom growth at this point. When you get home you can evaluate where everything stands. Patience at this point is critical to long term success.
Will my hitchhiker blue leg hermit survive? He survived 9 days since purchase... 3 of which were in a covered bucket w/ the live rock that he hitched a ride on that was not being circulated. Just found him today. :)
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