First post... Long, sorry!

Discussion in 'New to Reefing' started by Ithaca9, Feb 16, 2008.

  1. Ithaca9

    Ithaca9

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    Hi, I'm Matt. I have been meaning to post, but have been dreading the long list of questions I have developed over the past month. I have had a salt water tank for about a year and a half now. I started out, oddly enough, with a 10 gallon and about 10lbs of live rock, live sand, a few snails and crabs. After it cycled for a few months I tried fish. A blue and yellow damsel first. Then a couple chromis, which the slightly larger damsel picked on so much that the one jumped out of the tank. It ate the other, got some type of tumor on its lip, its enire jaw fell off, stopped eating, and died. All that in about a month. Neat. So I tried another blue/green chromis. Worked. Then another. All did well, and I learned reeeally quickly how to manage water chemistry in the little tank.

    Then I upgraded to a 46gal, slowly increased the cleaner crew (which I am still doing) and after the water chemistry calmed down, added two false percula clowns in November, and an algae blenny a couple weeks ago. I also now have 4 mexican turbo snails (three others have died), an emerald crab (one other died), one peppermint shrimp (two others died recently), a red leg hermit, and about 7 blue leg hermits. Over the course of the several months I upped my LR slowly to probably around 60-70 lbs. I got a bunch free, which might be the cause of the problems I am having... (I also added a few simple-ish corals, but I will add info on that later.)

    Problemo numero uno: A bunch of my cleaner crew has been dying... which is weird because there is a good amount of algae all over the tank. Green, hair, bubble all came with the free LR. I keep the back of the tank for algae to grow, and only clean the front and sides. I am pretty sure that they have enough to munch on. Another weird thing is that the algae blenny seems quite thin, as if he isn't eating. He doesn't touch the hair algae (there's not a ton of it, I should notice some progress, right?) or any other algae for that matter from what I can see. My nitrate/nitrite levels seem to be near 0 all the time.

    Another problem: Red algae! Oh my god, make it go away!

    Here's what I have done to try to fix the problem:

    -A pad bought from the LFS that removes organics- silicates and phospahtes in particular. I placed it in my canister filter as per the directions on the pad. hasn't touched the cyano at all. Should I try phosban instead? I heard the pad I'm using works just as well/better since it removes silicates as well. Unfortunately I don't have the name/brand of the pad.
    -I replaced the carbon again when I put the pad in.
    -switched to frozen brine shrimp only instead of flake/pellet. also use zooplankton for coral
    -kept the lights completely off for 3 and a half days. two days later, all algae looked healthier than it was before. question mark?
    -slow addition of snails and crabs. My thought is that it isn't good to add too many at once. Am I right about this or should I add a bunch now? any suggestions to numbers and specific kinds?
    -Blenny. I was told to add him. He's cute, but it's time for him to start doin' stuff! he eats, but rarely, and I seem to have to supplement with "sea veggies". He nibbles on that a bit, sometimes.
    -RoDi water (I started using it the day I joined here and learned how detrimental tap water is to the reef) I have done about three or four 10-15gal water changes since I began using RoDi.
    -two powerheads (topfin 50gal), pointing at each other. They seem to do NOTHING to the tank. Any suggestions of better brands to get?

    And I have a confession. I don't have a protein skimmer yet. If I get one, will this help as well? I am looking at the AquaC Remora with Maxijet 1200. Does anyone know how loud these are? Any other suggestions if I eventually plan to keep more challenging corals and other fish? I'm also thinking of upgrading to a larger tank in a few years. Any suggestions to a HOB skimmer that can be used for something over 100 gal's? the 1200 is only good for up to 75.

    Another thing going on in the tank: bristleworms (the tiny, under 3cm ones) and these tiny starfish that I believe are brittle/serpent stars. I have heard both are okay, and the one remaining peppermint shrimp has been keeping the bristleworm population under control I think?

    I mentioned coral above. I have a Kenya weed, orange mushrooms, green star polyp, and a black and white thing that kind of looks like a stalk (which I was told is a low-light coral)? As for lighting, I have a 36''Nova Extreme with T5 and actinic bulbs.

    Sorry for the long post and all the questions. I have about 18 months of screw-ups to admit to and get help with! The next posts will be much shorter. Thanks in advance for anyone who replies to this!
     
    Ithaca9, Feb 16, 2008
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  2. Ithaca9

    Bifferwine I am a girl

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    Hi and welcome! I'll try to start at the beginning.

    First thing first with your cleaner crew, get a copper test and test your water for copper. Copper will kill inverts, and it sounds like you've been experiencing quite a die off.

    I would also get a new nitrate test kit. With that much algae and die off of your cleaner crew, it could be high nitrate levels too (which are fatal to inverts). Or at least, take a water sample to your fish store and have them test your nitrates to double check. Especially since you have no skimmer.

    Not all algae blennies will eat all algae. At least, not the nuisance kind that it sounds like you have. My lawnmower blenny won't touch hair algae or bryopsis or slime algae. Which are the most common types of nuisance algae. If he is looking skinny, try feeding him dried seaweed sheets on a suction cup clip. You can find seaweed sheets in any fish or pet store.

    Those pads don't work worth a crapola. You need to buy the media that you put into a bag. Like PhosBan, PhosGuard or RowaPhos. Then put that in an area of your tank that water is forced through, like in a filter.

    Good move on switching to frozen food. Flakes and pellets = bad. But when you finish off this batch, I'd switch to mysis instead of brine. Brine has little nutritional value and is like fish junk food.

    You're right about not adding too many snails and crabs at once. Plus, there really aren't any that will eat the red slime algae (cyanobacteria). So I don't think that will help your cyano any.

    I think the best powerheads are Hydor Koralias. But they are EXPENSIVE. Next best things are MaxiJets. Super cheap and work well.

    The Aqua C Remora Pro is an excellent choice. No doubt not having a skimmer is not helping your algae problem. There really isn't a good HOB protein skimmer that will work for a bigger tank. Most big tanks have a sump attached, so in sump skimmers are used. But the Remora will work great for a lightly stocked big tank and would be perfect for a tank the size of yours now.

    Bristleworms are great, and no, the shrimp wouldn't be eating them.

    The little starfish are probably okay too. Most likely baby brittle stars or asterina starfish. Check out Melev's Reef - Visual Identification .

    You have good lights. Good choice there.
     
    Bifferwine, Feb 16, 2008
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  3. Ithaca9

    reeffreak

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    Welcome to the site Matt.
    My advice is the same as Bifferwine.No need for me to get my arthritis flaring up again.Good luck and I hope things get better.
     
    reeffreak, Feb 16, 2008
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  4. Ithaca9

    Ithaca9

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    Thanks a ton for all the advice. For what seems to be the biggest issue right now... How do I remove copper from the aquarium if the test I'm getting shows high levels? Water changes?
     
    Ithaca9, Feb 16, 2008
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  5. Ithaca9

    cravinmohead22

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    one thing i think Biff forgot to mention is a canister filter is bad news if not cleaned really well every week. it will be a nitrate king if you dont. i too run a canister filter but only for about a week out of the month. only use it to run carbon or phosgaurd and for a hour or two after a water change.
     
    cravinmohead22, Feb 16, 2008
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  6. Ithaca9

    Altohombre The Tennis Pro Reefer

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    are your salinity levels close to the 1.024-1.026 range? Inverts like a slightly higher salinity level. That range is closer to natural sea water. If you don't have one, I suggest getting a Refractometer. They usually run at $40 bucks and are it seems a million times more accurate than the crappy Hydrometers that you need to change every 6 months and give different readings.
     
    Altohombre, Feb 16, 2008
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  7. Ithaca9

    Ithaca9

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    Thanks for all the help, guys. Alto, I am looking at ordering a refractometer. I am also looking at ordering two new powerheads- the hydor koralias. Any suggestions anyone as to what # I should get? I want to get two and place them on opposite sides of the tank. I was thinking the 1's would be enough, but should I go to 2's or will that be too much for a 46 gallon?

    As per the canister filter, I am going to remember that and clean mine more often until I can find other means of filtration.
     
    Ithaca9, Feb 18, 2008
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  8. Ithaca9

    Bifferwine I am a girl

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    For a 46 gallon tank, go with either the Koralia 2s or 3s. In my 240, I have six 3s running.
     
    Bifferwine, Feb 18, 2008
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  9. Ithaca9

    cravinmohead22

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    only run the filter when your water gets cloudy or starts to smell alittle bit. then run carbon or what ever other media you wish.
     
    cravinmohead22, Feb 18, 2008
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  10. Ithaca9

    yote Ceritfied Mantis Hunter Moderator

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    I'm going to lean more towards your salinity as whats killing your snails and crabs.Inverts tend to do better with a salinity of 1.023 to 1.026.
    But if you happen to have copper in your tank,then you'll have to trash your rock and sand and start all over.The rock and sand will hold and leach copper if its present.
    Other than that,Everbody has you cover pretty good.And welcome to the reef.
     
    yote, Feb 18, 2008
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  11. Ithaca9

    Altohombre The Tennis Pro Reefer

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    I have 1x Hydor Koralia 3 in my tank and it seems to be doing good. I also have some flow from my Skimmer and my filter spray back. I have my powerhead on the right side high enough to get a little water ripple on the top of the tank for oxygenation. I learned all this on this site.
     
    Altohombre, Feb 18, 2008
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  12. Ithaca9

    Piggy

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    The number ones give very little flow. I would go with at least a 2 or 3.
     
    Piggy, Feb 19, 2008
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