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Questions from a novice
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umich79
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Joined: 01 Apr 2005

PostPosted: 2005.04.01(Fri)1:52    Post subject: Questions from a novice Reply with quote

Hey all, I've been reading the board here for a couple of months, ever since the idea of setting up a SW tank came up between my roommate and myself. Anyhow, I've owned tons of fresh water tanks in my life, but I also grew up in the tropics where things like heaters weren't really an issue. This might be a long post, so bear with me, I have lots of questions, and general steps that have taken place over that last two months or so.

So, about two months ago my partner in this came home with a tank, 29 gallons, he'd gotten from a friend and along with a penguin hanging filter, a glass heater, Instant Ocean and some pre-packaged sand (argonite). We set everything up and tested the water we had prepared to get a handle on what we were dealing with. About a week later, he brought home two blue damsels, 4 lb's of live rock from Bali, and 4 lbs of aquacultured rock. I thought it was too soon for fish, but at this point the argument is really a non issue.

The Damsels didn't really get along, and one ended up not making it. I know now that Damsels are agressive, but we live and learn. At this point the tank was still cycling. Fast Forward to about two weeks ago. The tank had been cycled for about a week at this point, the Nitrites had subsided and the nitrates started to build slowly.

We started to see a build up of what I can only describe as brown growth on the sand and little white hairs covering the walls of the tank. The LR also showed algae growth. At this point I went out and bought some critters, which were four scarlet clawed hermits, and two Margarita Snails, along with another lb of LR (Bali) and two lb's of aquacultured rock.

This brings me to some of the questions I have. I've read that margarita's don't do well in warmer water. I've also read that hermits tend to kill one another for shells. My LFS, I think that's what the fish store is called, assured me that they would be OK, however I'm not 100% on whether or not he's just trying to sell me things or is helping, afterall, this is the place we bought the two damsels and he said the samething. For that reason I didn't buy anymore than did, just in case.

The aquacultured rock seems to be devoid of any growth, even the stuff we bought months ago, while the other LR is going crazy. What I guess I need to know is what you all think I should do now. The glass heater is working great keeping the system at a pretty constant 80', and the remaining damsel is doing well. The Margarita's are eating away at the algae on the glass and the crabs have done a pretty good job at cleaning the sand and the rock, but it's only been a couple of days. Currently the nitrates are at a 20 ml/L. So to make a short story longer, any recommendations on additions to the tank, subtractions? Fish I can add safely? Cleanup crew? LR? Skimmers? Heaters? Filters? Sumps? Water quality? Anything. I know it's a small tank, but it's more of an experiment to see if we can take care of something like this, on a budget. My roommate wants to get a 50+ G. tank in his office eventaully. Oh, and we have a huge shell integrated into the configuration that's been cracked and allows a pretty neat hiding spot for our Damsel. So please, please, please I need some feedback. At this point I feel I've done a pretty decent job, but it's really new to me, and doesn't help that it seems as if I'm the only on taking care of everything.

I've been doing about a 20% water change per week using distilled purified water from the grocery store once a week. One more thing, the snails seem to wander up the glass out of the water. Is this OK? Any help would be very much appreciated.
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SLACkra
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Joined: 06 Feb 2003
Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

PostPosted: 2005.04.01(Fri)2:01    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would increase the amount of water you change during your weekly water change to bring down those nitrates. What is the salinitiy of your tank water? a salinity of 1.025 specific gravity is recomended. Also buying a skimmer will make maintaining your tank easier as it removes disolved organics from the water slowing the growth of nuisence algae. also I say this a lot never cycle with fish, the surviving damsel is now perminantly damaged and the majority of damsels are highly aggresive and territorial. The hermit crabs will kill eachother over shells so make sure they have a good supply of new shells sllightly larger than their old or current ones. As for the live rock buy the stuff you like the most but as your tank is now mature only buy cured live rock so you get minimal die off when adding new live rock.

andrew
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7.5g Nano Reef
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umich79
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Joined: 01 Apr 2005

PostPosted: 2005.04.01(Fri)2:07    Post subject: Reply with quote

Salinity is about 1.024/5. I test daily for that and nitrates. I'm still learning about everyithing and was kinda thrown into the fray without enough working know how. The fish wasn't my idea, but now what's done is done. Thanks, for the reply, please feel free to tell me more. I really am seeking advice from people who are not trying to sell me something.
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umich79
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Joined: 01 Apr 2005

PostPosted: 2005.04.01(Fri)2:36    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've read that live rock is a good natural filter. The goal I'm trying to achieve here is a self sustaining tank. I know it's only 29 G's so it most likely requires more attention as water quality is more volatile in smaller systems, which I'm willing to do. What should I do with the Damsel? Are there any other natural ways to lower nitrates? Live rock around Michigan goes for $9 to $12 US a pound, while the aquacultured goes for maybe $4, but looks like it couldn't sustain anything. I'm switching stores, as the forementioned establishment seems to be very keen on selling, rather than giving me advise.
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SLACkra
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Joined: 06 Feb 2003
Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

PostPosted: 2005.04.01(Fri)4:04    Post subject: Reply with quote

the bali live rock probably has lots of invertabrates and other interesting critters on it, the aquacultured rock dosen't but still provides bacterial filtration. a self sustaining marine aquarium with fish dosen't exist you will always have to do somthing either toping up water, water changes feeding fish ect. If I was you I would get a skimmer they are must for those wanting to have a succesful marine aquarium. Also keep the damsel and keep him happy. He is now damaged goods though most aquarium shops will take them back, just do your best to make his shortened life a happy one.

andrew
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umich79
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Joined: 01 Apr 2005

PostPosted: 2005.04.01(Fri)4:44    Post subject: Reply with quote

Those things, I'm more than willing to do. Sucks that the Damsel is "ruined." That's the reason I'm looking for advice. I knew at the time the fish were a bad idea, and no matter how small, I'd rather buy things that will live, rather than do a trial and error thing. In the long run, it's more fair to whatever I'm going to buy, and much more cost effective. Are there any decent skimmers on the market that are relatively cheap. My understanding is you get what you pay for, but again, pretty new to all of this. The Margarita snails are have moved out of the water, I just would like to know if this is normal or not, and if I should be concerned. If not normal, I'll take them back to the store tomorrow, and pick up some different cleaners. As for fish. I think with what we have in place at the moment, we would like to make this thing visually appealing over anything. I've thought about getting some sort of clown, anenome and other such things, but I don't really think I'll try anything like that for a while. I'd like to get at least another 10-15 lbs of good live rock, set up a protien skimmer, set up better lighting (at the moment we have the hand me down halogen set up), and stock with some easier types of inhabitants. I don't think I'll add anything for another month or so. It's only been about three days since the hermits and snails went in, so I figure I'll let everything be for now. But, my tank is an empty slate for many of you, and if you all have any good ideas, keep them coming. Thanks for the replies so far. I'll try to get some pics to show you what's going on now, and keep them updated so I can track the progress. Damsel seems to be happy, she's the queen of the tank, and gets fed 2 to 3 times a day, as directed by some site I looked at.
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SLACkra
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Joined: 06 Feb 2003
Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

PostPosted: 2005.04.01(Fri)8:02    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I've thought about getting some sort of clown, anenome and other such things,


anemones need high quality lighting either a lot of floro or a metal halide lighting setup. Also an anemone should only really be placed in a tank 6 months old(not including cycle).

Quote:
set up better lighting (at the moment we have the hand me down halogen set up)


Halogen lighting? what K is it rated at? 6400K-20000K is what you want and a little bit of actinic lighting is nice(blue lighting, makes the tank look like deeper ocean instead of rock pool.

Quote:
Damsel seems to be happy, she's the queen of the tank, and gets fed 2 to 3 times a day, as directed by some site I looked at.


just make sure your not over feeding her, adding excessive nutrients to the water. what are you feeding her?

cheers

andrew
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7.5g Nano Reef
1 four legged wonder napper
2 winged demons
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FloridaBoy
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Joined: 04 Jul 2004

PostPosted: 2005.04.01(Fri)8:11    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome to the hobby my friend, now is a great time to add a 10 gal quarantine tank and begin cycling it too. This can be a very simple setup; plenty of info on this here and elswhere. Of all the advice I give, this is paramount. The reality is, most SW fish losses could be avoided with several weeks of quarantine for ALL new arrivals and having a backup system for problematic fish; regardless of what others say, it is essential to your long term success, and made even more critical when mixing fish and invert populations.
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umich79
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Joined: 01 Apr 2005

PostPosted: 2005.04.01(Fri)14:41    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did I say Halogen, sorry, it was late. We have the hand me down regular old neon that came with the hood. I'm feeding her tetra marine flakes, every 5 hours or so, and just enough that it's gone after about a minute. The snails have migrated back to the top of the water, but don't really seem to be all that interested in going any deeper. The 10G isnt' a bad idea, but I'll have to wait a bit and save some money. I was Thinking I would try to save up for something bigger and use this one as a q tank, but it'll take 6 or 7 months. I'm not going to get anything, at least at this point, that I'm not 100% I can take care of. It would kill me to buy an expensive anenome just to essentially kill it. I'll make sure to consult with this board anytime I have an idea. How do the inverts impact the bioload?
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