Confused about filtering options

Discussion in 'New to Reefing' started by boricuamed, Apr 27, 2006.

  1. boricuamed

    boricuamed

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    Hello to all:

    I am a MEGA NEWBIE to anything related to fishkeeping. I have a 2 month old 55gal FW tank, and am now setting up a 30 gal SW tank. My question is: Can I just run the SW tank with just a protein skimmer and a power head (daily water change of course until cycled)? Or do I "absolutely" need some sort of additional filtering system (HOB, canister, etc.)?

    My tank specs are:

    30g "show" tank
    Penguin Bio-Wheel 350
    Berlin Air-Lift 60 protein skimmer
    air pump
    20 lbs of live sand
    20 lbs of crushed coral (undeneath the live sand)
    2 lbs of live rock
    1 Damsel

    Tank is 1 week old, and water parameters are: Ammonia 0.25 (after 15% w/c this morning), Nitrites 0, Nitrates 0, SG 1.023, pH 8.0 (low) 8.4 (high).

    Any additional advice would be most appreciated.

    p.s. Damsel and live rock are doing fine (just my point of view).

    Thanks in advance... :Cheers:
     
    boricuamed, Apr 27, 2006
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  2. boricuamed

    squibley2

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    Well bori I hate to be the one that brings some bad news but here we go.

    1)You should not have added the damsel until the tank is cycled.
    2)Doing daily water changes will be both expensive and also increase the time it takes for your tank to cycle.
    3)If you are trying to do a reef tank you need a lot more live rock if your typing was correct and you have 2lbs of live rock you should have between 1 and 1.5lbs per gallon of water in the tank.
    4)Why did you mix the Crushed Coral with the sand? Are you going for a sand bed or a crushed coral bed?
    5)I would add a filter to the tank the type is up to you but you should have some sort of filter but don't run a filter pad all the time 1 week in 2 weeks out or so should be fine. If you leave it in you will get a huge biological filter problem and your nitrates will just go sky high.

    I don't want to sound too negative but you are going to have to do some work to make this tank work it is a lot less forgiving then FW (yes I keep both as well) you need to be very very very patient with a SW tank even more so if you are making it into a reef and plan on having corals in the tank (in my opinion the reason to start a SW tank) You will also have to address lighting and several other things if you plan on having a reef.

    I would plan on changing a lot of water in the next coming weeks to months that is takes the tank to cycle completely (this will sometimes happen sooner but plan on at least a few weeks) another option you might have is to take the damsel back to the store and have them hold it for you until your tank has cycled and you can get more LR in the tank. I would spend a lot of time in the helpful articles section and read everything marked for newbies or beginners then read everything else but start with the beginner stuff. I hope this helps.

    Post back if you have specific questions and keep us posted on what the tests are coming back at and how things are going so we can all help you enjoy this wonderful hobby.

    Kevin
     
    squibley2, Apr 28, 2006
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  3. boricuamed

    boricuamed

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    Thank you squibbley. I thought that i could "jump start" the tank without having a filter running. Your info was most correct and expected. With that said, I did the following:

    -Moved 30g setup to a 55g tank (original water and substrate used intact).
    -Bought a 40w "power glo" and a 40w "sun glow" bulbs.
    -Bought a Hagen 500/110 filter
    -Bought a Berlin 60 protein skimmer
    -Bought a power head for water movement

    Damsel is out of tank (it :death: last night), but live rock is ok. My water params are:

    Ammonia: 0.50
    Nitrite: 0.00
    Nitrate: 0.00
    pH: 8.0 (low) and 8.4 (high)
    S.G.: 1.022

    I do havae a question regarding the protein skimmer. I have read many articles suggesting holding off on using it until the tank cycles, and others saying it is ok to use it from the beginning. Should I use it now or not?

    p.s. I have read most of the newbie articles on this site and others, I know it may seem contradictory to my original posting, but i wanted to experiment with trying to make a "faster cycle period" :frustrat: . As for the live rock, I will try to get some more this weekend, but want to wait until tomorrow for the water to clear up a bit from moving it.

    Thanks for the input, any more suggestions would be appreciated.
     
    boricuamed, Apr 28, 2006
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  4. boricuamed

    squibley2

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    Well if it were my tank I would add the live rock soon like you said this weekend would be good. If you get good cured live rock from a good store you will have very little die off which will help to keep the tank from having a hugh cycle. This would be step number 1. Your tank will cycle the same way your FW did but it will probably take considerably longer. I have had people say that if you really want to jump start your cycle then to purchase a product called biospera. It actually has the bacteria you need in the tank in the product, other products claim the same thing but have never had any luck with those. If you are hell bent of speeding it up you could try some but even if it does work you need to add things to the tank very very slowly. First a snail or 2 then wait a couple weeks and add a couple more until your tank is stable and the cycle is long behind you and your clean up crew is keeping the tank nice and pretty. Then you can start adding fish and corals again very slowly. I know this seems like it will take forever but if you are aiming for long term results it is the best way to go you can rush things and it might work for a while but usually something will go wrong or you tank will start its cycle all over again and this could be a lot worse for you then just 1 damsel.

    I would also reconsider your fish selection unless you really want that damsel in the tank I would not replace him! He would be almost impossible to remove once he has claimed the tank as his and he will be to aggressive to keep most other fish.

    I hope this helps
    Kevin
     
    squibley2, Apr 29, 2006
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  5. boricuamed

    rarecoral21

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    u can run a tank just with a skimmer i did for three years but it has to be a really good one and its a lot of work and also you can cycle a tank using damsels but most will die its better to just wait for cycle do not do not do not do water changes like that u will never cycle your tank that way let mother nature tank its corse good luck keep us posted and also bio wheels cause nitrates down the line cause they hold on to waste there for causeing nitrates
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2006
    rarecoral21, Apr 29, 2006
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  6. boricuamed

    rarecoral21

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    use live bacteria this will really speed up things
     
    rarecoral21, Apr 29, 2006
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  7. boricuamed

    boricuamed

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    Thanks for the input. Unfortunately I do not know the "quality" of the LFS's around here, and would prefer to not buy from places like Petco and the like. Any suggestions on what to look for tomorrow when I purchase the live rock?


    BTW, the "little" live rock that I bought has a total of 8 "worms" (I think that is what they are called). Is that considered a good yield?

    Thanks again for the help. :Cheers:
     
    boricuamed, Apr 29, 2006
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  8. boricuamed

    squibley2

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    When you go into a store look around see how healthy the fish are see how everything looks the cleaner the better.

    What do you mean worms? If you are talking about bristleworms those are bad not good. A picture would help immensely!
     
    squibley2, Apr 29, 2006
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  9. boricuamed

    rarecoral21

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    six line wrasse will take care or worms
     
    rarecoral21, Apr 29, 2006
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  10. boricuamed

    boricuamed

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    Hello Squibley2:

    Here are some photos of my tank. The water is a little bit cloudy still from the moving maneuver of last night. I honestly have no clue what these organisms are, but look like some kind of "worm" to me. They come out for a few minutes and dissapear for a coucle mor, then come out again. If these are bad things to have, then I know not to buy from that place again, because I explained to them that I was starting a sw tank for the first time and if they could recommend something good to cycle the tank with.


    thx again for your help.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    boricuamed, Apr 29, 2006
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  11. boricuamed

    squibley2

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    Those are just feather dusters which are fine for they are actually quite nice to look at as they get larger. They are definitely not a problem. If you want to you can add a filter pad to the tank for a day or 2 to help clear the water then remove the pad but don't do anymore water changes just keep testing every couple or few days so you know what is going on with the tank. A good idea is to keep a little journal of what the tests came back as and what you notice in the tank that way you can look back and see how your exact tank reacted to what was done. You obviously don't have to do this but it is a good idea. Once your ammo has spiked and then come back to 0 then your nitrite will spike then come down to 0 and you will be left with nitrates. Then you can do a water chang and slowly start to add your clean up crew.

    Keep us posted and post new pics whenever you change anything or it has been a while and the tank has changed.

    I hope this helps.
    Kevin
     
    squibley2, Apr 29, 2006
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  12. boricuamed

    minireefer

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    You can run with just a skimmer ,but the hob filter you have minus the bio wheel will help with water circulation and the occasional filter pad.Try hirocks.com to get some good deals on base rock them top it with the live you have plus some more.Look for some stuff called bio spirula will help get some bacteria in your tank
    to nudge the cycle,if is not available petco will have some stuff called cycle.
    Best advise is to be patient and read some of the articles posted on this site to help you out
     
    minireefer, May 1, 2006
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  13. boricuamed

    boricuamed

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    Thanks to everybody for their comments and help. I purchased 12lbs of live rock and 20lobs of live sand more 2 days ago. Water looks crystal clear, did a water test today and these are the results:

    pH: 8.0
    Ammonia: 0.50
    Nitrite: 0.50
    Nitrate: 20 (I checked it twice)
    Temp: 80F
    S.G.: 1.023

    Quick question about the Red-Sea Berlin Air-Lift: I get greenish sludge but it is very watery. I have to empty the container twice a day. Is this normal? or is the air pump on too high?

    Thanks for the replys. I will try to post some pics on tonight.
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2006
    boricuamed, May 1, 2006
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  14. boricuamed

    boricuamed

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    Here are some pics of my tank after adding more live rock and live sand...
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Can someone please help me with identifying these organisms in the "new" live rock?

    Thanks again for all of your input. :bowdown:
     
    boricuamed, May 1, 2006
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  15. boricuamed

    squibley2

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    I am not sure on the animals but the first one looks like a tiny bubble coral but someone should be able to ID it for you for sure. A couple things on the water params. Your PH is a little low, Temp is a little high. You want your PH around 8.2-8.3 and you want you temp as close to 78 as possible.

    The tank is looking very nice!

    As for the skimmer you probably have the airstone turned on to high you should need to empty the container every few days to once a week assuming it is the right size for the tank and everything and the skimmate should be like dark strong tea or strong dark green tea. I hope this helps.
     
    squibley2, May 2, 2006
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  16. boricuamed

    minireefer

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    since your tank is still cycling your ph will fluctuate,but once it done it should 8.3.Since the weather getting warmer 80 is alright try not let get higher.I think you might have some little bubble coral,but hard say for sure.
     
    minireefer, May 2, 2006
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  17. boricuamed

    boricuamed

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    Cool! If it is a coral than it is a bonus! :bounce: That is the live rock that I got from the LFS of my previous post. Thank you all for your help. :Cheers:

    BTW the skimmer is a Berlin air-lift 60, so I turned the air pump down a bit, and it now I have to change it once a day, I will turn it down some more when I get home. The output of the skimmer now has more of a "watered down gel" consistency. Is that more appropriate? or should it be more viscous?

    Thanks again.
     
    boricuamed, May 2, 2006
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  18. boricuamed

    squibley2

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    No it should not be thick it should be like dark green or brown tea. You might have a lot of DOCs in the water which might explain the high output from the skimmer. How are your params reading now? What else have to done to the tank? What have you added to the water? Many additives that we use will make the skimmer either go crazy or stop producing until the proper water tension is restored due to time, or the removal of the chemical from the water. There is also something to be said for time when it comes to a skimmer they will take some time to "run in" to the point where they settle down and start doing there job the way it was intended to work. I would leave it the way it is if the skimmate is a darker color and not very watery then you should be fine. The other thing I am thinking is that your skimmer might be intended for a smaller tank or close to capacity and that is why you are having to empty it daily. I have a skimmer made for a 100G tank on my 20G nano.

    Just a few thoughts that might help.
     
    squibley2, May 3, 2006
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  19. boricuamed

    jhnrb

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    try to adjust so you get a dry foam. if you have ever walked on the beach and seen the white foam that sometimes shows up you will notice that it is very fluffy and not runny. in your skimmer you want the foam to produce below the top of the cup stem and as it developes it pushes up and out. it should just barely slide back down on the inside and it should maintain foam consistency until it is over the top and settled in the cup. hope this helps.
     
    jhnrb, May 3, 2006
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  20. boricuamed

    boricuamed

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    Last night I checked the output of the skimmer and the cup was about 1/3 full. However I noticed that the height of the bubble column was drastically reduced. The output was of a dark "green color" as mentioned above, so I decided to leave it alone for now. I add calcium every other day to the tank. I will check the params this afternoon (I usually check around 5:30pm) and post them tonight.

    I am somewhat disappointed by the "manufacturer ratings" for their products. I have com to realize that for good effectiveness it is necessary to purchase products intended for 2x or 3x their actual application, as in the case of the skimmer. I will however, try to upgrade the skimmer soon (probably a coralife 150?).

    I will keep you posted, and thanks for the comments about how the tank is looking.

    btw: I think that today I will be ready for my first wqater change. :D
     
    boricuamed, May 3, 2006
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