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Discussion Starter #1
So I just started up a new aquarium...my first one ever...and I started it with live substrate and a good pile of live rock. Ran it a few days, testing the water and never had any ammonia, nitrite or nitrate so I went and got three fish and 6 hermit crabs a week later. Its now been two and a half weeks and I have nothing going on with ammonia and nitrite and my nitrates are also at pretty much zero. Is my tank really that clean and healthy or am I to expect some random spike soon that is part of the cycling process?
 

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I'm goin to guess that you used Fully Cured Live Rock in the tank also? This accomanied with the use of Live Sand, your tank is likely not going to go through any type of cycle. You have all the bacteria in the things you started the tank with.
:thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Wow so the guy at the store steered me in the right direction then. I bought live Caribbean sand and a big pile of fully cured live rock which was super expensive...8 bucks a pound. Pretty much what your saying then is my tank is fully cycled?
 

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Wow so the guy at the store steered me in the right direction then. I bought live Caribbean sand and a big pile of fully cured live rock which was super expensive...8 bucks a pound. Pretty much what your saying then is my tank is fully cycled?
Yup, it sure is. Thats how you go about cycling a tank quickly.:-D
 

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T5 lighting? Or should I saved my pennies for LED?
I personally am saving to do LED. I am looking at the Marineland Reef Capable 18" LED Light for my 16 gallon nano. This might not be the best light out there, but it is affordable.

I personally would not have added fish as fast as you have. Even though the tank is technically "cycled", it is not mature. The tank should go through a few stages prior to adding fish. If I were to start a tank from day one:

Week 1: Add water, live sand and live rock. Wait for the cloudiness to dissipate.
Week 2: Test Trates, Trites and Ammonia. Make sure everything is zero. pH ~ 8.3
Week 3: Test for NitrAtes, NiriIes and Ammonia if reading was not zero week before. If reading was zero, I continue to test Nitrates anyway. Start Calcium and Alk testing, Cal ~ 400 ppm, Alk ~ 8-12 dKH.
Week 4: Hopefully by now the Diatom Bloom has occured. If it has, I suggest adding a Clean up Crew (CUC). I will have been testing and dosing Calcium and Alkalinity over the past week to make sure my water stays within the parameters.
Week 5: If everything (Trates, Trites, Ammonia, pH, Calcium and Alkalinity) have leveled out and stayed level, then hopefully I am growing coraline algae on the glass and seeing a rise in copepod and astrea starfish populations. At this point, I feel that it is time to add a (maybe two) fish.
Week 6: If everything has stayed level after adding one or two fish, then I will consider adding another fish.

If you don't understand water quality, here is a good article written by a member: Alkalinity and Calcium testing - important for every marine aquarium

And here is a good filtration article by the same author:
Saltwater Filtration 101, How it Differs from Freshwater

Remember, nothing good happens fast in a saltwater aquarium. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Wow dude that is a lot of great information. Thanks! My problem with setting up this tank is my nearly uncontrollable excitement so its been a major temptation to fill that thing up. At this point I think with just the few fish I have I will probably be alright. So far I've gotten zero ammonia nitrite and the other day I got not even 5 ppm in nitrate, which I think actually may have been tester error. I hadn't even thought of the alkalinity and calcium tests. I figured since I wasn't really getting into corals and stuff I didn't need to do it. I purchased a protein skimmer which should be here next week sometime so i should be in pretty good shape once that is all set up and running. The only thing I'm confused about is that from the filter article as I understand it I don't need a big fancy sump filter anymore with the skimmer, live rock and live sand. Would i be right in saying that?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
"Week 4: Hopefully by now the Diatom Bloom has occured. If it has, I suggest adding a Clean up Crew (CUC)."

Is this the brown algae bloom you're talking about? what would get for a clean up crew?
 

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I waited, too, after adding live rock. Sometimes even well cured rock can experience minor die off when rearranged stacked and piled. Conditions change for whatever may be encrusting it, and some things may die. But you mentioned something like a nearly 3-week waiting period before you added anything, which was prudent. I did, as you have done, a water test to confirm parameters, regardless of how safe things seemed to be. Another good strategy. Live rock does seem to create a very solid biological filter quickly, however, compared to the "ammonia and hope" method.

To be honest, although I was impatient to add fish, the period where live rock is developing and new organisms are daily appearing in the tank is fascinating. It made me want to keep a well lit tank full of nothing but live rock for a year or so, just to watch it.
 

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Coralline will not grow if the Phosphate levels are high. You should also test for this. But if your just going with a FOWLR, your only going to need to test for Calcium, Ammonia, Nitrates, Nitrites and PH. Magnesium, ALK, CA and Phosphates are if your going with a Reef tank, or tank with some corals. Corals hate Phosphates. And if yoiu have Phosphates in the water, you will also be getting hair algae, and gross lookin sponge growth.
But, onto the CUC here. For Diatoms, there is no reason to get Diatom specific CUC, as the Bloom will die off by itself.
But if you still wish to have your CUC knock em out
Astraea Turbo Snail
Banded Trochus Snail

Now for added CUC:
Bumble Bee Snail
Turbo Snail
I don't much care for reef hermits, if they don't have enough to forage on, they will go after your corals. But, thats a chance we all take if we want em. I don't have hermits in my tank.
 

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I bought a bunch of super tongan nassarius snails and a bunch of Trochus snails for my 210. (Source: LIveaquaria). I thought the trochus would hang out on the live rock and the Nassarius would comb through the substrate.

After two weeks, it became clear that the super tongans were snuffing the Trochus one by one at night. Within a month, all the trochus were mere shells of their former selves, no pun intended, and I had nothing but Tongans and several dozen empty escargots.

Everybody on another forum told me my observations were crap, but I did find an account identical to my own on WetWebMedia where another person witnessed an all out Super Tongan attack on her Sea Hare.

Just because they're all part of a clean up crew doesn't mean they are compatible.

Buy the way, the tongan snails are still doing swell.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Yeah I have some little hermits in there now. I haven't seen any growth yet so I would assume its just still too early. I also don't run my lights all day long because I was told this would promote algae overgrowth where I don't have corals yet. My tank is on the first floor of the house and while it doesn't get full sunlight there is a lot of ambient light in the room throughout the day. I've been lighting it like 3 hrs in the morning and like 5 hrs at night just so I can watch what's going on in there. There were a lot of times I found myself nearly cross eyed from starting in there . those first few weeks
 

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A sump is actually not a filter, but an area that water drains down into to be recirculated into the display. The sump is a place to hide your equipment (skimmer, heater, uv, etc), increase water volume and oxygenate the water. This article I attached refers to filters such as canisters, bio-wheels and HOBs.

Calcium and alkalinity are controllers of water quality, not just consumables by coral. The chemical composition of seawater is not just salt and water. All the buffers associated with calcium and alkalinity, when in balance, promote good fish health and decrease the chance of disaster. Granted, when there are no coral in the tank, calcium and alk are consumed at lower rates, but they still need testing and replenishment.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Sweet! Thanks for the info this site is a great source of info. I am picking up a 24 gallon aquarium to use as a sump tomorrow. Going to build one myself as they are really expensive new. I'll post pictures of it when it its finished. Not sure what I'm going to use as an overflow box so I may end up buying one.
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