50 gallon cube - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 15 Old 01-24-2010, 05:33 PM Thread Starter
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50 gallon cube

Picked up a used 50 gallon (60 with built in sump) cube on Craig's list with 12x24" t5 fixtures and bulbs for $300. Decided it would make a great first tank since I was having such a hard time deciding on tank size and was getting intimidated by the expense.

I found a sturdy table on a used furniture store that's the perfect fit.

Just this week I got it up and running with about 4" of sand and 50 pounds of un-cured live rock.

Thought I'd share photos from it's first week and I'll keep you all updated as it comes along.

Thanks for looking,
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File Type: jpg live-rock-1.jpg (90.6 KB, 90 views)
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post #2 of 15 Old 01-24-2010, 10:11 PM
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Very nice. Keep the pics coming!
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post #3 of 15 Old 01-28-2010, 04:32 PM Thread Starter
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Fastest cycling tank ever?

Tank has been running for exactly one week (since I put in the un-cured live rock) and it seems to be cruising along at a much faster rate than I expected.

First off, I learned that I was doing the Nitrate test wrong (wasn't shaking the vial after putting in the first 10 drops before putting in the second with my API test kit) so my previous samples showing extremely high Nitrate were erroneous. Glad I got that figured out.

Here's the numbers from today:

Temp: 76.4
SG: 1.023 (finally got an accurate tester)
PH: 8.0
Ammonia: .25ppm (was as high as 8 four days ago, was 2 two days ago)
Nitrite: 1.0ppm (was 5.0 yesterday and 4.0 the day before that)
Nitrate: 10ppm

So, Ammonia has already spiked and is heading back towards zero, and it appears that the Nitrites have spiked as well. I did do a water change of 10 gallons two days ago when I thought that my Nitrates were at 160 due to poor testing. Perhaps this will trigger another ammonia spike, but if not it looks like I'm well on my way to having Ammonia and Nitrite levels at zero before too long. At what point should I start running the lights more? So far I've just been doing two blue lights when I'm home.

Live rock is starting to show some reddish brown color (algae, I assume) in some places and some red specks in other places and a white leafy looking thing. It's fun to watch it all mature!

Here's some updated shots with most the lighting going to see what the real colors are (I know, I need to clean the outside of the tank - what do you guys recommend for that? I know windex is bad and water just leaves streaks) - any guesses as to what the fun little specks are?

Note: sorry about the huge photos - I guess that this site doesn't do thumbnails!
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Last edited by Allbread; 01-28-2010 at 04:36 PM.
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post #4 of 15 Old 01-28-2010, 05:29 PM
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I love your rock. Great quality, very porous. Here is a tip that sounds weird but you will be glad you did. Ask your LFS for a handful of the sandy live rock rubble from the bottom of their live rock sales vat. It will be almost sand like and of no use to the LFS at all. They will think you are strange for asking. What it gives you is a diversity of life to seed your sand bed. Transport it like a fish, in a bag of water, and bury it gently under the sand behind your live rock.

Your ammonia and nitrite readings at this point will be all but gone in a day or so. Your nitrates capped at 10ppm, because you had 10ppm of total ammonia that broke down to become nitrate. The nitrate will continue to creep up slightly as you add livestock and feed. Over a period of months to come your sand bed will begin to also serve as a denitrifying filter, reducing Nitrates to zero as well. This will take time, so be patient. So long as your nitrates remain under 15-20ppm, you are good to add livestock anyhow.

You should see a diatom bloom hit soon. It appears as a brown algae that will coat almost everything, practically overnight. It will go away on its own, and this is an indicator that the tank is beginning to mature well. The other big indicator to watch for is coraline algae growth. As soon as the diatom hits, you will want to begin testing and adjusting both alkalinity and calcium. This will encourage the coraline along, and help to reduce future harmful algae or cyno outbreaks.

Looking good! Nice job.

One more thing. If you save your pics to photobucket first, they will be of the correct size for a normal thread posting. It is also easier to attach them to the thread this way, as you only have to copy/past the img code.
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post #5 of 15 Old 01-29-2010, 09:32 PM Thread Starter
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Good call, Pasfur -

I got home from work today and the bloom has hit! All sorts of brownish funk on the LV and sand. Even a few yellow fuzzy spots in certain places.

I tested the water this morning and ammonia is zero, Nitrites is down to 1ppm and Nitrates are still at 10ppm. I mixed up 20 gallons of saltwater this morning in anticipation of a major water change.

Now that the bloom is here, should I do a water change and is it too early to add a CUC? Do I need to let my saltwater sit for a week before the water change or is a shorter amount possible since there is no livestock yet.

I'll start testing tomorrow for alkalinity and calcium as you recommended.

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post #6 of 15 Old 01-30-2010, 08:04 AM
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I would suggest adding a CUC now. You can also do a large water change now. There is never a reason to allow water to sit for a week before use. Granted, you want the salt to be well mixed, so I usually add a powerhead to the bucket of saltwater and allow it to mix overnight, but that is all you need.

You are on track. In 2 weeks we will be talking fish. If you don't have a quarantine in place, you need to get on that ASAP.
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post #7 of 15 Old 01-30-2010, 06:58 PM Thread Starter
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Day 10

Diatom bloom is really taking over! Ammonia is still at zero, nitrites are at 1ppm, and nitrates are at 10ppm. I'm going to wait until nitrites disappear before adding crabs and shrimps. Hopefully won't be long.
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post #8 of 15 Old 02-01-2010, 02:40 PM Thread Starter
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Patience does seem to be the trick and I admit that I'm having some troubles with it. Now the diatom bloom is raging full bore and is pretty much on every surface.

I keep waiting for my Nitrite levels to hit zero so that I can do a water change and then add some crabs and shrimp to take care of the algae but tank readings have been the same for the last five days: zero ammonia, 1ppm nitrite, 10ppm nitrate. I'm starting to get frustrated seeing that same color in the Nitrite test tube every morning! It's like it's stalled out on that Nitrite level - it dropped from 5ppm to 1ppm in no time at all. Is this normal?

Tested alkalinity for the first time yesterday and got 10 - 10.2 dKH - not really sure if that's good or bad. My understanding is that that means that calcium levels are probably low and I want calcium to promote the coralline algae growth, right?

It's hard to not be pro-active about the algae but, to be clear, I should just be watching and letting it run it's course, right? No water changes or siphoning off of algae? So far all I've been doing is cleaning the acrylic.

What about lighting? Seems like I wouldn't want to crank it up now with all the algae but I want to make sure that all the invertebrates on my uncured live rock have the best chances to flourish.

Thanks, as always, for all of your help.

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post #9 of 15 Old 02-01-2010, 09:14 PM
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That's a sick tank! I like the bracing on it, a very clean look.

Maybe i missed it, but i didn't see what type of water you are using. Is it RO/Di or is it tap. Perhaps your source water is putting some nitrates into that water?

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post #10 of 15 Old 02-01-2010, 09:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Allbread View Post
Tested alkalinity for the first time yesterday and got 10 - 10.2 dKH - not really sure if that's good or bad. My understanding is that that means that calcium levels are probably low and I want calcium to promote the coralline algae growth, right?
This isn't quite right. Yes, you want to maintain correct levels of calcium and alkalinity to encourage coraline algae growth. Just keep in mind, that alkalinity and calcium do not necessarily have to move together. There are many buffering ions that make up marine saltwater, and calcium just happens to be the dominate element that bonds with carbonates. The reason that balanced products, such as BIonic, are so popular, is that they keep the natural ratio of these major and minor buffering ions in tact.

So, you need to test Calcium in addition to Alkalinity. You will probably find that you dose for Calcium more frequently than buffering for Alkalinity, as calcium is used by coraline algae, corals, and to form carbonates.

Its complicated, but so long as you dose both and test regularly, you will get the hang of it pretty quick.
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