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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi everyone

I have a 26 gallons tank cycling with
* About 10 - 15 lbs of live rocks (came from an established salt water tank)
* Macroalgea very small
* Play sand and live sand half and half 20-30 lbs total (the live sand came from an established salt water tank)
* Hang-on filter with no filter media (using it right now to get water circulated)
* One power head
(soon in a few days i should be receiving my protein skimmer and will install this week)
** im also planning of adding a 15 gallons sump to house my protein skimmer, heater and maybe more live rock and some plants (i have sump box already just waiting for my pump and skimmer to install)

My water parameters right now are

1-17-2010 after 4 days
• pH 8.2
• alkalinity between normal and high (it's hard to read my test I’m using the red sea test kit turns out light blue)
• nitrate 0.2
• Temp 79
• S.Gravity 1.020

1-18-2010 (same reading) after 5 days
• Alkalinity between normal and high (it's hard to read my test I’m using the red sea test kit turns out light blue)
• Nitrate 0.2
• Temp 79
• S.Gravity 1.020

I'm using the red sea starter kit which came with salt, hydrometer, nitrate test, pH test and alkalinity test

Can anyone suggest the next step or thing(s) I need to fix? My tank is been cycling for little bit over 5 days. So far I haven’t done any water change
 

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It sounds like you are off to a good start. I feel your pain when using the Red Sea alkalinity kit. I use the same kit, and being is the light blue color zone is good. When it starts to drop below this you need to be adding a buffer. For the record, it is essential that you also test for calcium in ALL marine aquariums. Calcium is the major buffering ion in saltwater, and replenishing calcium directly is necessary to achieve the balance and stability you want from your marine system. More on that here: http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/member-submitted-articles/alkalinity-calcium-testing-important-every-marine-33079/

You mention that you have some live sand and some play sand. It is likely that the play sand contains silicate. It is assumed that silicate is a cause of algae, but the hobby has had a difficult time proving that this is actually true. This being said, I hope you plan this tank to be a FOWLR tank and not a reef. The risk of using silicate based sand in a reef is probably not worth the money saved. It is a high enough risk that I would personally consider starting over today, rather than moving forward, if you plan to keep a reef. If you are going FOWLR, then I would not personally be worried about the sand. For the record, you should have a 4'' to 6'' sand depth for proper denitrification. If you are not aiming for denitrification, then keep the sand a 1'' or less to avoid problems with organic accumulation in the sand bed.

Your salinity is low. Increase it to 1.024 to 1.025. I have no idea why some LFS continue to advise keeping the salinity at levels below natural sea level. You will not gain any benefits (parasite prevention) at 1.020. All indications from experienced successful hobbyists are to keep the salinity at a natural level.

Power filter: When you say you have no media, do you mean you are running it empty? Or are you using the filter pad? If so, you should not be using the filter pad. These particulate filters trap detritus, causing organic decay and nitrate buildup.

Do you have a protein skimmer? Have you considering this purchase? We can make some good inexpensive recommendations for a smaller tank. Over the long haul, the skimmer will save you a lot of money, so you may as well buy one.

You say you have not done a water change. No big deal. I see no reason for doing a water change at this stage. You really would not be accomplishing much. Are you testing for ammonia and nitrite also? I suspect you will never see an ammonia or nitrite reading, because the live rock is established from another tank.

At this point, wait for the diatom bloom. The diatom bloom will appear as brown algae that spreads rapidly over the rocks. It will fade in a couple of weeks. You should then see coraline algae begin to take its place, assuming you are correctly testing and buffering for alkalinity and calcium. For the record, this is a good stage to add a clean up crew. For you, 2 or 3 hermit crabs and 1 snail will suffice to start.

You should also wait at this point to allow the population of copepods and amphipods to flourish. You should begin to see populations on the glass and in the sand bed. The diatom bloom passing, coraline algae growing, and pod population thriving are early signs that the system is maturing nicely and ready for livestock.

The final sign of a tank maturity will be when your nitrate levels peak and then begin to DROP. Yes, nitrates will drop back to near zero in systems that utilize a deep sand bed, live rock, and a protein skimmer. This takes a few months, but is a great indicator of long term health.

Lets talk livestock. What are you considering? Also, can we get pics of the complete setup?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
My tank is not going to be reef tank. I'm new to this hobby and this is my first time trying out the saltwater. Maybe once I feel comfortable with saltwater I will try the reef tank. In my tank I have about between an inches of sand to 2 inch of sand.

Do you think it’s better to have around 1 or less of sand over having 4-6 inches?

As for my hang on power filter, I don't have any filtering media in it. I just running it to keep my water circulating and I have one power head as well to get my water circulating around

As for calcium and ammonia test I don't have that reading yet because the kit I bought did not come with one. But I will be buying them once I have time to go the pet store.

Also I did buy a protein skimmer just it hasn’t arrived yet. Is there a down side using a big skimmer? I kind of picked up a skimmer that is rated for 75 gallons tank and I only have 26 gallons tank?
I also mention that I will be adding a sump that holds about 15 gallon of waters. This is where I’m going to house my heater and skimmer and maybe more live rock in the future. And I will get rid of my hang out filter once my skimmer arrives.

As for livestock I don't have any idea what to get yet. But for sure I’ll be getting community fishes so I’m open to any suggestion.

When should I add a cleanup crew? Right now? Or once I see the coralline algae



Once again thank you for taking the time looking at my post and giving me advice to the right direction... i will keep updating my post for any change...


Jon
 

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In my tank I have about between an inches of sand to 2 inch of sand.
Do you think it’s better to have around 1 or less of sand over having 4-6 inches?

As for my hang on power filter, I don't have any filtering media in it. I just running it to keep my water circulating and I have one power head as well to get my water circulating around

Also I did buy a protein skimmer just it hasn’t arrived yet. Is there a down side using a big skimmer? I kind of picked up a skimmer that is rated for 75 gallons tank and I only have 26 gallons tank?

I also mention that I will be adding a sump that holds about 15 gallon of waters. This is where I’m going to house my heater and skimmer and maybe more live rock in the future.

When should I add a cleanup crew? Right now? Or once I see the coralline algae

Jon
I like your plan Jon. For sand, I think 4'' is best, and 1'' or less is 2nd best. However, your tank size is small and this is a FOWLR, so I wouldn't be overly concerned. If this were a reef, then you would probably need to add more sand.

You say you will be adding a sump. Is your tank drilled? Do you have an overflow box.

It will not hurt anything to have a larger skimmer. In fact, I prefer to use the most aggressive skimmer that I can afford on a given tank. What model did you purchase?

Talking CUC (clean up crew), keep in mind, your tank will only sustain 1 or 2 snails and 2 or 3 hermit crabs. I would suggest adding the crabs when the diatom bloom occurs, and waiting a few months on adding snails.

For stocking ideas, check out this website:
Fish Index

You want to stick with Basslets, Blennies, Ocellaris Clowns, Gobies, Hawkfish, Jawfish, and Pseudochomis. Depending on the exact fish selected, you have room for 2 - 5 total fish.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
cool thanks again for so much good information.

my sump will have an overflow box and i'm using the bank amircle look exactly like this


but i will not use the bio balls.. my question is should i put live rock inside my sump or is it better putting my live rock in the main tank?

if you look at the sump set up and if you think putting live rock inside the sump is the best idea.. do you suggest putting the live rock suspended like the bio ball or it should be on the bottom of the sump box.

i don't think my protein skimmer is a big name brand unit.. its called quadples spraying protein skimmer by sky enterprise ( i just got them today soo im going to be install it today) including the sump

since my tank already started cycling is it a bad idea to be moving the rocks around? or the sand around?

should i add a cured rock right now or should i wait till later on?.

sorry for soo many question... i just dont wanna mess up my first marine set up


once again many many thanks to your advice....

jon
 

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Discussion Starter #8
the fish i think that i want to keep are these:

butterfly fish
damsel
bassletts
or psuedochomis

i know those aren't the fish you recommended but would it work with my set up and me being a newbie at this hobby?
 

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but i will not use the bio balls.. my question is should i put live rock inside my sump or is it better putting my live rock in the main tank?

if you look at the sump set up and if you think putting live rock inside the sump is the best idea.. do you suggest putting the live rock suspended like the bio ball or it should be on the bottom of the sump box.

since my tank already started cycling is it a bad idea to be moving the rocks around? or the sand around?

should i add a cured rock right now or should i wait till later on?.

jon
Put the live rock in the display. Additional rock in the sump is ok, but first build a good reef structure in the display.

I would not mess much with the sand, but it is ok to move the rock structure around until you are satisfied with the aquascapping.

Add the cured rock now, yes.

On the sump. The design honestly sucks. It is a trickle filter by definition, meaning that the water level is not controlled in any way. Evaporation lowers the water level. This will cause the height of the water in your skimmer column to drop as the water evaporates. You would be best to add a couple of "baffles" to the sump prior to installation. You will create a chamber for the drain line, a chamber for the skimmer, and a chamber for the return pump. All evaporation will occur from the chamber with the return pump, if you install the baffles correctly.

Read this articleand if you have more questions feel free to ask: http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/member-submitted-articles/understanding-sumps-15930/

If you want a Damsel, stick with the Yellow Tail Blue Damsel. You should be able to add a Pseudochromis or a single Basslet with it. However, you will be choosing from territorial species, so you are honestly limited to only 2 total fish. I think 3 would be asking for trouble.

There is absolutely, without question, no possible way that you will be able to maintain a Butterflyfish of any type in this tank. I can not say this with enough conviction.

However, if I heard you correct, you said this is a 26 gallon tank, not a 20 gallon? Am I right? What are the dimensions of a 26 gallon tank? I may have a few more fish choices for you, depending on the length.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
sorry for being picky

how about this Centropyge bicolor or Apolemichthys xanthotis

i modified my sump box... here how it looks like right now.. i highlight the baffle so you can see it clearly



all the black lines are the factory divider...

i added the red... (the inlet plumbing actually align with the live rock box)

do you think this design would work?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
is it possible for my tank to cycle really fast.. since half of my sand are alive and all my rocks are alive... and about 5 gallons of water from established tank. (the rocks already have some purple stuff growing from previews tank0.

It’s hard for me to test the ammonia level since I haven’t got a test kit yet. The starter kit I bought by red sea only came with nitrate, ph alkalinity and salinity test kit. Only test I’ve done are the test I’ve posted in my first post.
and all this hard rain in southern california makes it hard for me to go out and get one

The reason why I asked this is because I see little things growing on my rocks with tentacles and its moving.. I try taking picture but it’s hard to focus with my camera

by the way my S.G. went up to 1.024 is that bad..
 

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sorry for being picky

how about this Centropyge bicolor or Apolemichthys xanthotis
Jay,

I love your tank. It is a lot of fun watching the growth on live rock that takes place in new set ups. I personally think you tank will never display an ammonia or nitrite reading, so long as you add livestock slowly, allowing time for the existing bacteria in the live rock to spread into the other rock and sand bed.

For the record, adding 5 gallons of "used" water from another tank was a horrible idea. For anyone reading, NEVER do this. There are no benefits of this at all, and the risks of transferring harmful pathogens and parasites are great. There is nothing to gain and a lot to risk. The beneficial bacteria live on the live rock, not in the water.

As for the C. bicolor and A. xanthotis, absolutely not. One of my strongest points of experience in marine fishkeeping is with Centropyge angelfish. I was intentionally specific in mentioning the C. loricula and C. argi as the only 2 angelfish that would work in your tank. For the record, C. ananthops would work as well, but is rarely seen available. There is not a single other angelfish species that would work in your tank size. Not even close.

It sounds like things are progressing nicely. I would suggest adding a few clean up crew members, then beginning to feed a light feeding daily of flakes. Allow a week or so of testing for ammonia and nitrite. Assuming you get test results of zero, then you are ready for your first fish.

For Quarintine, I would suggest a 10 gallon tank. A simple sponge filter, attached to a power head or using an air pump would be adequate. Hydro Sponge Filters | Sponge Aquarium Filters | Filters | Aquarium - ThatPetPlace.com or Filter Max III Sponge Pre-Filters | Sponge Aquarium Filters | Filters | Aquarium - ThatPetPlace.com. A small hang on would work also:
AquaClear 30 Aquarium Power Filter - 20 to 30 Gallon | Power Aquarium Filters | Filters | Aquarium - ThatPetPlace.com

Regardless of your choice in filtration, place the sponge in the display for a week or so to allow it to seed with bacteria. Then add it to the Q tank. You will keep fish in the Q for a minimum of 3 weeks, and even longer if you see any signs of infection or parasites to treat for.

This topic of Q tanks is coming up frequently and is a long discussion. I will try to find time today to post an article on Q tank setups and care.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Wow!!! I’m learning so many things about saltwater that I gain more and more question kind of ironic. It’s overwhelming and exciting thank you again for talking your time reading and replying to my thread.

My question about q tanks are: since you said I can use a hang on filter with sponge filter on it. Would it be a good idea to seed that sponge as well in the main tank. You mentioned in your Q tank thread that you prefer the sponge filter over hang on for the reason of: you can seed the sponge by leaving it behind your main tank live rock for 2 weeks. Would this work as well?

When starting a new Q tank. Do you use fresh saltwater mix not from the tank right?

What do you do with the Q tank after use. Store it dry? What about the sponge in the filter or sponge filter? You store it dry as well?


I’m going to summarize what I’ve learn from your suggestion. See if I missed anything

1. Use ten gallons tank for my Q with fresh saltwater mix not from the tank with S.G. 1.016 (do I have to cycle this to or not)
2. Use sponge filter/hang on filter, hard PVC for hiding and heater … that’s it..
3. Put in the newly purchase fish (associate light on with feeding) do no watch the fish eat sometimes they are shy when eating (do I do any water change during this time?)
4. Monitor ammonia and alkalinity reading in the first 3-4 days twice a day to make sure the seeded sponge is working as a filter
5. After two weeks if no sickness is observe began raising the SG of water by doing 10% water change a day till 1.024 goal is reach
6. On the 3rd week add the fish in the main tank
 

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I prefer a sponge filter, be it used inside the hang on filter, or as its own air driven unit. It does not matter either way. The point is to allow the sponge to serve as the biofilter, because the sponge can be seeded by placing it in the main tank for a couple of weeks.

I use new saltwater for my Q tank, but i would not be opposed to using some display water. For example, if you wanted to do a 10% water change, using water from the display to fill the Q tank, that would be fine. This also gives you the advantage of replacing some display water with new saltwater.

I never break down my Q. Between fish it just runs empty. I generally never go longer than a week or 2 without purchasing a new fish. When my display is full, I will throw a damsel or something into the Q just to keep it active, in case I need it later.

In the Q, I do not do water changes until I am ready to raise the specific gravity. No water changes are done during the first 2 weeks after purchasing a fish.

This is being picky, but just to be clear. I do not add the fish to the display "on the 3rd week". I add the fish to the display after a minimum of 3 weeks. I usually go closer to 4 weeks. I really like to see the fish feeding aggressively, almost out of my hand, before I add it to the display. I am very conservative with my approach.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
i just bought a clean up crew since my sand are starting to brown.. i bought 2 turbo snails and 1 hermit crab. ill add more hermit crab later on, like you said.... i know you told me to buy the hermit crab later but i have i have AIPTASIA growning on my rock and from what i understand they are bad...


since my tank seem to be maturing in the proper way.. now im thinking more in to stocking the tank...

lets say i get this two fish C. loricula and C. argi.. are those the only two i can get?

or can i add any of these as well??

damsel
bassletts
or psuedochomis
 

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Discussion Starter #20
another question i have is the only fish store i have near me are petco or pet smart and i dont like any of their fish.... distance wise.... about how far or how long can i keep the fish in the bag?? how long of far of a travel?
 
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