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shaggylawson 01-04-2010 10:53 AM

Re-Starting a 72 Bowface
I decided to start my old fish tank back up and have a few questions or may be more than a few:-)

The tank sat for more than a year with water sand and about 30lbs of LR left in it (no running filtering or heater). I thought leaving water in the tank would keep the LR so that is my first question; Is my LR still LR or is it just rock now?

I cleaned all the filters, protein skimmer, and walls of the tank after removing the old water from the tank. I had to purchase a new power head (Maxi-Jet 400) for movement of water, Maxi-Jet 1200 to attach to my Sea Clone protein skimmer and new filters for the Emperor 400 that I use for filtration. The LR and fossil coral were covered in a thick, green, slim (like jello) substance that I removed before placing them back in the new water. I did nothing with the sand thinking that it had organisms that I would need to help build bacteria. I ran it for about 2 weeks before adding two clone fish and a canary fangblenny that the LFS recommended.

Here is where the problem starts (I know your shocked:shock:). I assumed that the LR was good and the tank would cycle faster as it was not really new. So I had my water tested after 2.5 weeks and the LFS said I was good and could add anything. So I did:-(. I added a Sailfin Tang and Foxface Rabbitfish bringing the total to 5 fish, 8 hermit crabs and 5 snails. As you professionals have now guessed the tank had not cycled yet. I figured out something was wrong when my fangblenny died and my Rabbitfish looked stressed all the time so I had my water tested again and my Nitrite went up, Nitrate went up, and I had some Ammonia. I have since been trying to keep the fish alive for over a week now which has been successful so far without a QT (because I do not have one that is ready for fish). I have added 10 more pounds of LR from the LFS which brings me to about 40lbs of LR unless the old 30lbs is no longer LR (going back to my first question).

I have been adding Micro Bacter7 to the water each day to help promote bacteria growth per the LFS and that is pretty much all I have been able to do (add 10lbs or LR and MicroBacter7). As I said so far so good. Here are the recent parameters as of today: Nitrite 1, Nitrate 20, PH 8.0, Alkalinity 160, Temp 78.

The Sailfin Tang and Clowns seem to be just fine and do not show any signs of stress. The Rabbitfish seems fine and nice and yellow when no one is around the tank, but when you get near the tank he normally hides and loses his color. Every no and then I will see him lose his color when no one is around but normally he is swimming fine. So I'm not sure if the Nitrite is really bothering him as much as a originally thought. I thought I would lose the Rabbitfish and Sailfin pretty quickly.

Is my LR still LR?
Is this just a waiting game now or should I do more quick fixes to help the Nitrite?
Based on no Ammonia and the Nitrite coming down to a 1 is the tank close to being cycled?
Where can I get more LR or Base rock for a good price?
How much more LR or BR should I add (I have about 40lbs in a 72 bowface)?
Do the 5 snails and 8 hermit crabs do more harm than good at this point?

I have pictures posted in my Aquarium area, please let me know if you cannot get to them.

Pasfur 01-04-2010 05:14 PM


Originally Posted by shaggylawson (Post 299565)
Is my LR still LR?
Is this just a waiting game now or should I do more quick fixes to help the Nitrite?
Based on no Ammonia and the Nitrite coming down to a 1 is the tank close to being cycled?
Where can I get more LR or Base rock for a good price?
How much more LR or BR should I add (I have about 40lbs in a 72 bowface)?
Do the 5 snails and 8 hermit crabs do more harm than good at this point?

Hey Brad, glad to see you finally got things worked out and posted here. (Brad is my cousin, so I would appreciate any help everyone can give.) I would make a trip to check out the tank, but my knee has taken a turn for the worse and I will be having surgery soon. :cry:

The pictures of your tank look very nice. You actually have a pretty good setup, being a FOWLR (fish only with live rock) tank. Given that it has been a few days since you and I talked, and the fish are still doing well, I think you are in the clear. Don't worry about the color fading on the FoxFace. This is typical of the species and will take place for as long as you own the fish.

Your readings look nice. I am very glad to see that you are testing for alkalinity. In addition, I would like to see you begin testing for calcium. In fact, over the long haul, testing for alkalinity, calcium, and pH will be the routine tests you do weekly. Here is a more detailed thread I posted on the subject: If you need to buy supplements, I personally use Kent Marine Super Buffer DKH and Kent Marine liquid Calcium Chloride. You can buy both at Aquarium Supplies, Pet Supplies and Pond Supplies by That Fish Place - That Pet Place for a nice discount.

On the subject of live rock, I am certain that the 30 pounds of live rock left in your tank had a lot of die off, but some of the life would have survived and will benefit the tank. Having added 10 pounds of new live rock will "seed" the prior rock, and it will all be "live" within a few short weeks. You should add an additional 25 pounds or so of rock. I would personally order dry rock from 25 Pound box Key Largo Dry Rock, <br>Pre Cycled - DS-25. I used about 200 pounds of this rock in my 180 gallon tank and am very pleased with it. It will seed and become live in a few short months. Here are pictures of this rock on my 180 thread:

The last subject is filtration. Your skimmer is somewhat undersized for your tank. It is not a huge issue, but if you happen to have an extra $200 laying around, I would suggest you upgrade. This would be my suggestion:
AquaC Remora Pro Hang-On Protein Skimmer
You will want this to make it more effecient:
AquaC Remora Pro Pre-skimmer
Again, this is not entirely necessary, but I would personally feel more comfortable long term, and the price is worth it. You will actually save money over the long haul, because the better skimmer will reduce the need for water changes and supplement use.

As it stands, my only concern about your tank is the Emperor. The biowheels on the Emperor are continuously pumping Nitrate into the tank. This is directly at odds with the Protein Skimmer, which is designed to REMOVE organic waste from the water BEFORE the waste breaks down into Nitrate. Normally you would not use this Emperor, but would allow the live rock and sand to be your only filter to compliment the protein skimmer. For now, I think you need to add more live rock and allow the existing rock to mature before you take steps to remove the Emperor entirely.

My suggestion is this. Order the dry rock and get it in the tank. After 4 weeks remove one of the biowheels. After 4 more weeks remove the Emperor completely.

You will get all the help you need here. If you have any urgent issues feel free to give me a call, otherwise I am on here several times every day, and there are many others here with a lot of experience.


shaggylawson 01-04-2010 07:31 PM


Thanks for the reply. I will look into the skimmer but for now I will order the 25 pounds of Key Largo rock tonight. I have never ordered rock so I assume since it is dry rock once it is delivered it will be ok out in the cold until I get home from work.

Question about the Key Largo rock, can I just add that to the tank when I get it or does it require some type of preparation?

Also the LFS tested for the Alkalinity and told me that I do not need to test for Calcium because if the Alkalinity is correct then the calcium should be as well. Is that true? My Alkalinity is 160 and I purchased Kent Marine Superbuffer-dkH should I add some to bring it closer to 180?

terryap 01-04-2010 08:25 PM

from what I have read all you have to do is add to your tank, there is no die off, so it will not affect your ammonia levels, I don't think the cold will affect it at all, mind you, I would wait until it isn't cold anymore before you add, but I am sure you know that :)
great looking tank by the way! Can't wait to see more pics!

shaggylawson 01-04-2010 09:36 PM

Thanks Terry

Also what about the time the light should be left on. At this time I have it set to come on at 8am and turn off at 5pm. Should it be longer?

terryap 01-05-2010 06:15 AM

I am not a lighting expert, I leave mine on for about 12 -14 hours a day combined, actinics being on longer....this is an area Wake49 can help on

wake49 01-05-2010 06:23 AM

What kind of lights are you using? Are they Power Compacts? Flouresents: T12s, T8s or T5s? Metal Halides? Are they actinic with daylight bulbs?

I turn my actinics on from 12:30 to 11:30 pm. My daylights go on from 3:30 to 9:30 pm. This is so I can enjoy the tank while I am home. I personally run a 12 bulb T5HO on my 150 reef.

shaggylawson 01-05-2010 08:57 AM


I do not have a reef tank just a FOWLR. I'm not sure what the bulb is I will have to check tonight, but it is the light that came with it if that helps at all, I'm sure it is nothing special. It's just a single bulb that runs the length of the top of the tank.

Pasfur 01-05-2010 09:26 AM

I leave my lights on for 16 hours each day so that I can enjoy the tank. I have one light strip that comes on at 6:30am for the morning feeding at turns off at 11pm. Another light comes on at 4pm and off at 10pm, to increase the light when I am at home. You may want to buy another strip light. I bought mine at a yard sale for $8. (This is a fish only tank, so the exact lighting is not important. A reef tank would require a cycle that resembles nature.)

On the Key Largo rock, in theory it is able to go directly into the tank. However, to play it safe I would probably add a few pieces of rock into a bucket of saltwater with a power head for circulation. Allow it to run overnight and then test for ammonia and nitrite. If they read zero, then add it to the tank. When you first add it the rock will appear very white, but it will color up in time and become coated with coraline algae.

As for calcium, the LFS is wrong. I hope it wasn't Sandy's that gave you this information. If it was I will talk to Bruce the next time I am there. They are giving incorrect information (and missing sales opportunities).

Calcium carbonate is one of the primary buffers that make up alkalinity. However, there are many other buffers as well. These all need to be in balance. Calcium is utilized by all aquariums, even FOWLR systems, and thus is depleted before it is available to form calcium carbonate. If you don't test for calcium, these buffers become out of balance. In reality, these buffering ions being in balance is part of what makes "saltwater". Without this, you just have water with dissolved salts. I'm sure the Instant Ocean people would not enjoy this insult. :-)

Calcium should be 400ppm to 460ppm and Alkalinity at 8 to 12 DKH. I noticed you posted Calcium at 160ppm. This converts to 9 DKH. You may want to post in DKH so that everyone is using the same system of measurement.

shaggylawson 01-05-2010 09:51 AM


It was Sandy's that gave me that information, I can provide you the two names if you think it is appropriate to post here.

I only had the light on for about 8 hours because I thought it would cause too much algae growth but it is off most of the time we are home which does not make much sense for me and the kids. So can I have it on from 8am to 11pm without causing any issues?

The 160 is for the Alkalinity not Calcium, I have not tested for Calcium as the LFS said I did not need to since the Alkalinity was good. I'm not sure what my Calcium reading is. I will have to get a test for that.

I ordered the rock last night and hope to have it soon.

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