Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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pretzelsz 05-17-2010 02:58 PM

What do you think?
I have been going to a LFS and the people there have been very helpful and I like the advice they gave me.

They first told me that I don't need to put the live rock right after the sand and that I can wait as long as I want after I put the sand in.

He also said I shouldn't put a 4" sand bed because it creates gas bubbles and if stirred up releases them and causes ammonia and nitrate spikes.

I talked about Lighting and I didn't know much about alot in lighting but they told me I needed a 267ish watt light for alot of different corals and the live rock.

I went back again and asked about the sand and if I could put it in and the guy told me I could put it in with the base rock but withing 24 hours I would need to put a couple of fish in. But a few things I have questions about on this one are that the live sand I have says it helps make the bacteria for the live rock and I don't have the light I need and I won't have it for awhile. I also need to know if I need a quarantine tank for the fish?(probably 2 fire gobies since they are the least agressive.

Also they said I can wait for as long as I want to put in live rock andit won't create a new cycle because all of it is cured.

Any thoughts on this advice I was given also any answers to my questions?

bettababy 05-18-2010 12:56 AM

The first thing I have to say is to find yourself a new coach quick! With that kind of advice you're going to have a mess and dead animals to go with it. That will, in turn, send you running back to the lfs to spend more money to fix it all.

To answer your lighting question we first need to know what size tank you have and what corals you are thinking of keeping? (soft or stony)

In regards to the process of set up, the first thing that goes in is the saltwater. Spg/salinity are checked regularly over the first few days until it is in the right range (most animals will do well at 1.23) This should be the only thing in the tank until your spg/salinity is stable for a week straight, watching how much evaporation you have and how much fluctuation happens at that time. This will help to determine how often it needs adjusting to keep it stable. During this time you will also want to add your heater, temp at 76F - 78F. This also should be stable for at least a week. During this time power heads should be added to help mix the salt and keep the circulation up in the tank.

Once the water is stable and filtration and power heads are running, live rock should be added at the same time as live sand if possible, but if you have to choose which to add first, live rock should always be first. Live sand after the live rock will help to further seed the rock, but it will also help to anchor the bottom pieces so they don't shift once the animals go into the tank. This is important. If rock tumbles onto the fish you tend to end up with dead or badly injured fish. With corals, especially stony corals, stable rock structures are life or death to them. Shifting rock will send corals tumbling quickly, which can break, and even kill them.

Fish should not go into the tank until it is fully cycled. The die off from the live rock and the waste contained in the bag of live sand will be enough to start the cycle, provided you have enough rock in the tank to start with. Again, this is dependent on the size of your tank and the animals you desire to keep. Claims that live rock is already cured so there will be no die off is untrue. Anytime live rock is moved to new water conditions, goes through any rapid amount of extreme temp change, or experiences any drying during transport, there will be some form of die off, there is no way to get around that. The amount of and type of life in and on the rock will determine how much die off, as will the amount of change in the conditions it was moved to. Always expect some level of die off, and this can be confirmed if you begin ammonia tests within a few hrs of adding the rock and testing daily for the first week or 2 until it shows up. Again, enough rock must be present for there to be enough die off to be detectable on a test kit.

When adding live sand to the tank, do not add any liquid that is in the bag. Pour the liquid out into a bucket before you start adding the sand to the tank. The amount of ammonia content and other forms of waste contained in that liquid are not something you want to put into your tank.

If your spg/salinity, temp, and circulation are not at the right levels and stable when you put the live sand and live rock into the tank, you will kill part or all of your bacteria culture, which means having to reseed everything. This makes the set up process longer, cycling process longer, and time until you can add fish a lot longer.

Depth of sand, 4 inches is fine, but I wouldn't go any deeper than that. If you are intending a reef tank and work with a proper clean up crew to keep the sand bed maintained, then the gas bubbles that were mentioned to you won't get a chance to build and cause any harm. Deeper than 4 - 5 inches or too few maintenance animals, have the potential to cause a problem later.

Be sure to get quality rock. This will be one of the most important parts of your tank for the life of your tank. Filtration in a marine tank is primarily done via live rock and sand bed. If the rock is dense, such as tonga branch rock, it will provide much less filtration in your tank, which will lower the amount of waste your tank can accommodate without a problem.

If you let us know what you'd like to achieve in this tank, size of the tank, and equipment you are working with, we can then better guide you safely through the beginning process of getting started through to adding fish. Expect 8 - 12 wks average from the time the first rock/sand go into the tank and the time when the first fish will go in safely. Some tanks take a little more than that, some a little less, but that is the average to expect. The fire gobys are extremely sensitive to water chemistry and stress, they are "delicate" fish, so if those are what you desire, I would strongly suggest making sure the tank is fully cycled and stable before adding them to the tank.

I hope this helps.

pretzelsz 05-18-2010 05:45 AM

It helped alot and I have a 55 gallon tank. I have a power head running and a makeshift active carbon filter. I have a protein skimmer but the guy told me to keep it off for the first 2months.

so the light he told me to get was $400 and 260ish watts 10000k and using T5 bulbs and he said I need that for corals and live rock is that true?

The people I asked seemed sure this was OK but I have more of a trust with the people on this forum like you since the way everyone here does it it succeeds.

I also have around 55 lb of dry rock and 20 lb of rubble rock which the people at the LFS said to put on the bottom and build on top with the big rock for the jawfish because they will breed if I do that. Good idea?

I'll post more in a bit but I am running short on time

pretzelsz 05-18-2010 06:46 AM

So since i want to go with what you say I will wait patiently for the $$$ I need. Is more spacious live rock better? Because the kind they have was $10 a lb and thats $100 for 10 lb is that enough to start? So if that is the case I will wait for the $550 I need total for the light and rock which will be awhile.

Any advice?
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njudson 05-18-2010 09:31 AM

Just wanted to quickly point out that Bettababy almost certainly ment so say 1.023 salinity. Good luck with your tank and be sure to do lots of reading online. Tons of good info is available on site like this one!

pretzelsz 05-18-2010 01:24 PM

I realized that too I have mixed salt water and everything it's just a matter of what I need also I did have a build thread but people stopped looking at it so my questions went unanswered so I need important ones answered

njudson 05-18-2010 01:28 PM

Well I am happy to help but I am a noobie myself. What questions do you still need answers for? What light fixture to buy? For a 55 gallon I would recommend a 4 bulb T5 light but I am no expert like I said

pretzelsz 05-18-2010 04:16 PM

So adding to what I was saying before I have been mixing the water for weeks now and I have a powerhead running and a heater has been on for awhile at 77 F

so should I run the protein skimmer after the sand settles?

Do I need to spend $400 on a light system for a mix of soft and hard corals? or can I get a cheaper light somewhere?

Do I need a quarantine tank down the road?

and my spg is at 1.024

I thank the both of you for helping and hope you keep on helping :)

bettababy 05-19-2010 02:21 AM

Sorry I can't get here as frequently as I would like, so I ask for your patience please.

I apologize for the typo for the spg/salinity, I did indeed mean 1.023. If it is at 1.024 at the moment I would leave it alone and just alter it as evaporation dictates, which is the easiest way to do it. That little bit can make a big difference for some animals.

I won't have time to get to all of your questions right now, I apologize, but I will come back as often as possible until I work through them all with you.

First thing I want to mention is that carbon is not something used as standard filter media in a marine tank. You will want to remove that. Carbon can deplete the tank of needed nutrients and minerals. If your tank is properly biologically balanced, the only time you should ever need carbon is to remove medications.

I noticed you mention 55 lbs of "dry rock" and 20 lbs of rubble rock... how much live rock do you have? Dry rock, otherwise known as base rock, is dried and often bleached former live rock. While this can be a less expensive way to go about loading an aquarium with rock, when it comes to the biological function of the rock that is needed for filtration, dry/base rock will first need to be seeded. This process can take a very long time and requires the use of live rock and/or live sand to get it seeded. Starting a new tank with primarily dry/base rock is not something I suggest. Live rock should be primary, dry/base rock should simply be supplemental and can be added gradually over time once the tank is mature and can seed it properly.

When it comes to breeding jawfish, I'm sorry, but its just not that easy. It sounds to me like someone was just trying to sell you stuff so they can make money. Try asking that person what the process is for spawning jawfish, see what they tell you. Chances are they have no real clue. Jawfish are not the easiest fish to keep, they are very sensitive to water chemistry, temp, stress, etc. That is not a fish I would start a newbie out with, and never in a new set up.

If you put your rubble down beneath the larger rock you are going to find quickly that you have a very unsteady rock structure built up. This is dangerous to your animals and can make quite a mess. It is better to put the largest pieces down below, spacing them to form caves as you put the smaller pieces above. If the rock goes in first, then the sand... the sand will anchor the rock to help keep it sturdy. Without this process, any animal that burrows into the sand can topple the heaviest of structures in your tank very quickly. A 5 - 10 lb chunk of live rock going for a tumble and into the glass can break the tank glass, but it can also squash fish and corals alike. It is much safer and quite easy to form caves using your largest pieces for your base work, I do it all the time. Also remember that wherever the rock sits in the tank, you can expect something to grow on it. Be careful not to place rock too close to the glass on any side of the tank. You will need to be able to get your hand and a scraper tool between glass and rock all the way around the tank. Once you have your rock placed, take the scraper you intend to use and go through the motions of scraping every part of the tank you may need to at any point in the future, then adjust the rock to accommodate this. Anything you don't scrape, you can expect to not be able to see through once the coraline algae begins to grow well. Once you start placing corals you won't want to be rearranging all of your rock work to accommodate this later. That gets to be stressful for the animals and there is always the risk of breaking, damaging, or killing something when doing such things.

In regards to your lighting, it really would help if you could list some species names of the corals that interest you most. Some things can be accommodated with less light by building rock structure up high enough to place the corals closer to the lighting. I don't know how much the lighting runs where you are located, but I can check with my husband tomorrow... he knows a good website for ordering good light fixtures for fair prices. Sorry I don't know the name of it off the top of my head... I haven't had a need to order from them in a very long time.

In reference to buying live rock... $10/lb is about average retail now days. What you are looking for is porous live rock (light weight and not dense). Fiji live rock is usually very good, Marshall Island live rock can be a bit ore expensive, but tends to be of very good quality. You'll want to avoid branch types of live rock, as they tend to be much more dense than the others. If you are needing to see 55 lbs of dry/base rock, using only 10 lb of live rock and a bag or 2 of live sand... expect this tank to take quite a while to be stable enough to support animals. Instead of the typical 8 - 12 wks you would normally wait during cycling, expect closer to 6 - 12 months to seed that much dry/base rock enough to sustain any amount of animal life and the waste they will produce. Your numbers with the rock are backwards... it should have been 40 - 50 lbs of live rock and 10 - 15 lbs of dry/base rock. And yes, live rock is expensive. That is part of the expense of the hobby and something you should prepare for before you purchase any animals.

The skimmer... by all means hook it up and get it running now. The skimmer will help during the curing process of your rock and if there are not enough proteins in the tank yet, you just won't get any foam. You will be able to adjust it as you get the rock and sand into the tank and get foam production. Telling you to not hook it up yet is like telling someone to drive a car and then go get a license. By that time there may already be an accident. I would be leery of this person who is coaching you.

And, finally, the quarantine tank. You will want this set up and running by the time you add the first animal to the tank. The first fish can go directly into the tank if its the first animal, but if you start with corals, I would strongly suggest you quarantine even the first fish. Beyond the first fish, every fish should spend 2 - 4 wks in quarantine before going into your main tank. To add them any sooner is taking a huge risk of infecting the tank with parasites, bacteria, fungus, virus's, etc, all of which are highly contagious to the other fish/animals. Marine tanks are not as easy to medicate, especially if running a reef with inverts in there. Most meds are highly toxic to all inverts, and most meds will severely damage your biological filtration in the tank. There are also a great many meds that once in contact with the rock and sand, there is no way to remove them completely.. making them unsafe for any tank with inverts. If you get to a spot where someone suggests dumping meds into your marine tank... run! lol There are very few situations that would be safe to medicate for anything without doing so in a quarantine tank only. Quarantine tank is well worth the money it costs to set up when compared to the amount it costs to start over with the main tank.

I think I touched on everything, if I missed something tonight I apologize. I must get some sleep now, will be back as soon as I can be to help. In the mean time, someone may want to pm Pasfur and ask for some input on this thread from him... he will also likely have suggestions for lighting and fixtures.

Can you tell us what type of filtration unit you are using for this tank? (hang on, sump, canister, etc)

pretzelsz 05-19-2010 12:33 PM

It's OK I understand you can't be on 24/7 it's just my thoughts don't always come to me all at once so I might have multiple posts.

OK so I will save up for 40lb of the nice $10 live rock($400) and I would greatly appreciate a website with a lower cost light. I have no Live rock as of now so I will wait until I have every Item I need to get them(Pretty sure the light is the last thing) and when I do get it I will start with 15lb of dry rock too and add more as the months go by.

To specify what I meant about the rubble is that I would lay in down on the bottom of the tank with some other bigger rocks to support it a little more then stack a layer or 2 of normal rock ontop and then put sand that will hold the rubble and the few other bigger rock firm. Then the guy said the jawfish(pearly jawfish to be specific) have been breed in captivity successfully before and if I bought a pair they might breed if they can make caves through the rubble rock which would be under the sand.

As for corals right now I was thinking along the lines of mushrooms, zoas, hammer coral, flower pot, a kenyan tree, and I don't know the names of sps corals I would like. So what would I need for that(light is the one thing I didn't study up on much)

And my protein skimmer is an instant ocean 100 which I got on craigslist for a canister filter. I have a marine land heater and the active carbon filter which I will take off(hasn't been on for awhile).

ANy other advice I should know? I have read alot by pasfur he is really helpful and nice. Thank you so much for your help so far bettababy! :thankyou:

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