New here and need some help!

Discussion in 'New to Reefing' started by nensley, Jun 26, 2007.

  1. nensley

    nensley

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    Hi everyone! I have been enjoying reading these boards for a couple of weeks and I finally decided to post. We have had our 29 gallon saltwater tank for about 8 months. It has been very hard! We started out at a little local fish store and we were led very wrong for about 7 months and lost several fish. :( Now we have found a great fish store. So that is helpful.

    Anyway, I am having trouble with low ph and high nitrates and I cannot find the source. I am tired of treating the problem (which doesn't seem to be helping much anyway) and want to get to the source. So here is what my tank looks like:
    29 gallon, 19 lbs live rock, 1-2 inches of live sand substrate
    powerhead, Whisper filter, heater and airstone
    one serpent star, 2 peppermint shrimp, several little snails and crabs
    one blue chromis (had other fish that have not made it)

    I am doing 20 % water changes monthly. Last one was last Friday. My ammonia and nitrites are 0. My ph runs around 8. But my nitrates are 40-80. I tested the water I use for changes and there are not nitrates in it.

    Please give me any advice you can. I am just about ready to break the tank down and be done with it. But that would make my whole family just sad. We love the tank, but not all the problems.

    Also another question. Why do you have to let the water aerate for days before you put it in the tank? Just wondering the rationale behind that.

    Thanks so much!!!! I know this is long, but I just feel desperate!
     
    nensley, Jun 26, 2007
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  2. nensley

    Bifferwine I am a girl

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    Here are a couple ideas that might be what is going on... First, you might want to add more live rock. 2 lbs per gallon is recommended (so you might want to get about 60 lbs total), and live rock is an excellent method of filtration, which brings me to your Whisper filter. It is probably just not getting the job done. They generally are not the best types of filters for a saltwater tank. You might want to think about upgrading to a different filter or even better, a protein skimmer. Then to the source of your nitrates -- if it is not your water, then you might be overfeeding your fish. How often and how much do you feed? Did something die in your tank and did you leave the body in there (or did the body just disappear)? That could lead to nitrate problems too.
     
    Bifferwine, Jun 26, 2007
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  3. nensley

    nensley

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    Wow that was quick! Thanks

    Yes, the lady at the new shop we are going to said we probably need a new filter, but she said we would be ok without a protein skimmer. ??

    I definitely want to add more rock, but I am having to buy a little at a time. $$ :D

    I had a fish die last week. I think she cut herself on a rock and then she just stopped eating. That made me so sad to see her so miserable. We did lose several fish about 4 months ago but I removed them as soon as they died. A crab died 3 weeks ago, and I didn't know it until I saw the empty shell. The nitrate problem only started 2 weeks ago.

    As far as feeding, I was feeding dried Brine Shrimp (was recommended at the other store), but now I am feeding Formula 2. Just a tiny pinch for one fish so I don't think that could be it.

    Any other ideas?
     
    nensley, Jun 26, 2007
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  4. nensley

    yote Ceritfied Mantis Hunter Moderator

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    Try changing 20% of your water once a week for a while.You might even want go 30 once a week untill your nitrates come down.
    As for your PH. A PH of 8.0 isnt bad.Its a little on the low side,but not to the point I would worry about it.Make sure to check PH after the lights have been on 4 or 5 hours.PH will drop at night when the tanks dark.
    You might want to invest in a skimmer too.I personaly wouldnt do a saltwater tank without one.I know im alone on this one,but a seaclone 100 would probably help your nitrate problem some.
    Also,Yank the airstone out.All those tiny bubbles that they make in saltwater arent good for your fishes health.Plus they lead to excess salt creep.
     
    yote, Jun 26, 2007
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  5. nensley

    reeffreak

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    Here's what leads to high nitrates that I can think of
    a)overfeeding
    b)overstocked
    c)not cleaning/replacing filter pads and media often enough
    d)not enough water changes

    If I forgot something ....somebody let me know.You don't seem to be overstocked and you seem to have a good water change regime.Here's my recommendation to help lower nitrate and stabilize PH.Increase live rock 10-20lbs. more and maybe do 10-15% weekly water changes instead of monthly.BTW,I buy my saltwater already made up and I don't aerate it.Probably cause I only do 5gal. weekly on a 75gal.I do recommend to aerate saltwater to oygenate it if larger water changes are done though.The rationale behind it is corals,inverts, and the beneficial bacteria needs the oxygen.Low oxygen can kill off the beneficial bacteria causing ammonia spikes and lower PH.I also recommend changing filter pads weekly or bi-monthly.After a while pads/media will leach nitrate/phosphate back into the system.If I didn't answer your questions clearly.let me know.What you are going through,we all been through too....just hang in there and good luck.
     
    reeffreak, Jun 26, 2007
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  6. nensley

    HAWKS12thMAN NWKRC THUG!

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    Yote reccomending a seaclone?... Im gunna bet you just happen to have one in the back of your truck you willing to sell him?... LOL
    I do agree a skimmer is your best bet and I wouldnt start a tank with out one. Whisper filters are pretty much made for fresh water tanks. When I first setup my tank I didnt have a skimmer, and was experiencing the same problems with PH and nitrates being out of wack. I purcase a seaclone skimmer (every newbies mistake and of course I had nothing but problems with it) but it did solve my PH and nitrate problem. There are plenty of skimmers at the same price all over the web that will do alot better.
    As for the airstone I would yank it out as yote suggested and replace it with a powerhead. Again an airstone is a fresh water thing. I know this is all overwhelming but we have all been there. Saltwater is worth every pennie you put in to it. good luck.
     
    HAWKS12thMAN, Jun 26, 2007
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  7. nensley

    nauticac4

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    1. Skimmer
    2. More Rock (make sure its cured)
    3. A couple of small changes once or twice a week.

    Do you have anything sturring up the sand?

    Where in NC are you? We live in Greenville if your ever in the neighboor hood, and which LFS are you going too?
     
    nauticac4, Jun 26, 2007
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  8. nensley

    DavidA717 Soon to be Reef Expert

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    yeah definitely invest in a skimmer. I only have about 28lbs of Live Rock in my 30 gallon and I am definitely adding some more, probably on up towards 50lbs at least.

    yeah where in NC are you from?
     
    DavidA717, Jun 26, 2007
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  9. nensley

    nensley

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    Hi everyone! Well I went to the store today and got a skimmer and 5 more lbs of live rock. I also got a couple of little snails--so cute!!

    Today when I went to the store, they tested my nitrates and they were 20 so my test kit is not working properly. They said they would replace it. Interesting...

    Thanks a bunch for all your help. I am assuming LFS means local fish store. I live in Western NC and go to The Asheville Aquarium. It is a great store!

    Again, thanks. I think you all will be seeing a lot of me around here! :mrgreen:
     
    nensley, Jun 26, 2007
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  10. nensley

    matthew1048 Wurd to ya motha

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    Relating back on what Freak said, the use of a skimmer will help keep the water in your tank oxygenated. Congrats on buying one!!! A refuge housing macro algae will also help with that, and will also remove nutrients from your water. Just my thoughts though. Have fun, and welcome to the site!!!
     
    matthew1048, Jun 26, 2007
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  11. nensley

    bobby I like to do bad things.

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    You can do it without a skimmer but the skimmer is deffinetly worth it it will save you in the long run because without a skimmer you will have to do more water changes. I would get more live rock, use only ro water and test to make sure its good ro water, feed frozen food and do 10%weekly water changes.
     
    bobby, Jun 26, 2007
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  12. nensley

    yote Ceritfied Mantis Hunter Moderator

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    Actually Hawk,I do have a seaclone,lol.But its on my 30.Its never give any trouble,always get good black,crappy smelling skimmate.I really like it too.Plus it had an unbeatable price when I got it,,It was free.lol
     
    yote, Jun 26, 2007
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  13. nensley

    nensley

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    What is a refuge housing macro algae?
     
    nensley, Jun 26, 2007
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  14. nensley

    HAWKS12thMAN NWKRC THUG!

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    A refuge is kinda like a sump but, its filled with a little live rock and a deep sand bed. You put stuff like macro and cheata in it to help with the natural filtration and copeopod reproduction in your reef.
     
    HAWKS12thMAN, Jun 27, 2007
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  15. nensley

    Bifferwine I am a girl

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    Yeah what Hawks said. It's a smaller, separate tank connected to your main tank, so they share water. Macroalgae in the fuge takes up nitrates and phosphates from the water so it keeps your water quality higher and it serves as a breeding ground for live food for your fish and corals (pods).
     
    Bifferwine, Jun 27, 2007
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  16. nensley

    nensley

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    Wow. Sumps, refuge, all this is making my head spin. LOL! I hope I'm not in over my head. Is it possible to just have a nice reef tank with a few fish and not get into too much of the other stuff? I hope so.

    Oh yeah. I wanted to ask if you have enough live rock, plus a protein skimmer, do you still need a filter? I have that Whisper one and I am considering upgrading, but I was wondering if it is necessary. If so, what filter do you all recommend?

    Thanks again guys. This is a great forum!
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2007
    nensley, Jun 27, 2007
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  17. nensley

    yote Ceritfied Mantis Hunter Moderator

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    You can have an awesome tank with just live rock and a skimmer for filtration.
    Or you can run a sump,which will add water valume to your system.If you decide on a sump,you can either buy a pre-built one,or build your own.
    I personally like having a sump,because it gives you a place to put your skimmer,heater,and other equipment without it having to be in your display tank.
     
    yote, Jun 27, 2007
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  18. nensley

    fishbait I found Nemo

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    no, you don't have to have a filter. if you have enought live rock it will be your'e filter. you can do a little research on it on about.com they have some really good articles in there. the method is called the berlin method. and is probably the most common settup that you will see in saltwater. as far as the refuqium goes, you can buy or make an in tank one pretty cheap. cheatomorpha algae is a good algae for a "fuge". i have had some in my tank for about a month. it has took my phospates from .5 ppm to an undetectible amount in about 2 weeks. mine just sets up back on my live rock. i think bobby found a neat little mesh bag to hold his in ( feel free to chime in bobby) so, a fuge isn't a must to house some macro algae for nutient reduction. there are cheaper routes to achieve the same goals when your'e on a tight budget such as i am. once you see results you will get excited about your'e succuss and forget all about throwing the tank out in the yard:) then you can decide if want want to take the be plunge of upgrading to a sump/refugium.
     
    fishbait, Jun 27, 2007
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