Newb Questions...specific to Oceanic 29g Biocube

Discussion in 'New to Reefing' started by undrpsi, Jan 5, 2009.

  1. undrpsi

    undrpsi

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    Hi all..
    This is my first Q&A post on here (did the requisite 'about me' post also).

    Tank and Setup: Biocube 29g. It has dead coral (from LFS) instead of bioballs. I put in the Oceanic 'made-for-the' biocube protein skimmer (yes, I know a pump powered one is MUCH better). I have 1" to 1-1/2" Arg sand and (3) softball size dead corals (also from LFS) to help with PH buffering and as a base for LR to follow. It's only been running since last night. I added water (mixed my salt with water externally then added it to tank). Local water is 50* degree's or less. This morning, after about 12-13 hours running, the temps up to 71* and the suspended sand is clearing (not much).

    Some specific questions about the Biocube 29g tank.

    1. Lighting. I know there are mod kits but how are the stock lights? Worthless or ok for a FOWLR setup?

    2. Useability. I know this isn't a 125g with refugium. I want just a basic FOWLR setup until I get the salt water learning curve down then I will be looking for a LARGE SW tank. This is my 'training' tank. I know usually you get this biggest you can afford but I am not going to do that yet.
    A. What can I 'realistically' expect from the 'stock' setup?
    B. Without getting a computerized wave setup, will the stock outlet be fine? (I have looked at a couple of wave tanks and the pumps/controller really make smaller tanks fugly..IMHO).

    3. Maintenance. Anyone using the basic setup, what do you see as weekly / monthly jobs? I know it can vary due to temp and light exposure.

    Thanks for any info (and tips...I REALLY appreciate tips) about my tank. I really like a clean tank design (I traded my multitude of tanks for the Eclipse tanks over the last 2 years). I really like the Biocube design and don't want to go much past the standard design. I had contemplated a 55g setup with refugium, skimmer (large), and all the other stuff if needed (CO2 system, chiller...etc) but that was not really the way I wanted to go. If I get into this and like it (and don't mind the maintenance) then I will look at a very large setup down the road. This Biocube was a gift from my wife (who really wants a SW tank). It's like my Koi Pond. I didn't want it but the wife did. After 7 years it is EASILY the simplest to maintain aquatic system I have ever had. I have really enjoyed it. There was some trial and error but with local help and the right equipment it came out great.

    Thanks for reading my long post with questions!

    Jay
     
    undrpsi, Jan 5, 2009
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  2. undrpsi

    daugherty part time reefer

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    If you are just wanting a FOWLR you are fine with everything being stock there is no special requirments needed. i reccomend doing water canges every week just to be in a good habit that way if you forget to do it one week you are still ok to wait until te next week. you will not need to dose anything execpt for maybe alk and and use a ph buffer. do not use any additive that you do not test for.
     
    daugherty, Jan 5, 2009
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  3. undrpsi

    undrpsi

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    James,

    Thanks for the response. The 'dead' coral (purchased at local LFS) is supposed help with PH buffering. (I hope).

    I just used the standard Tetra Aquasafe dose for virgin tanks. Which has always worked for my FW setups. I know it's not perfect but was what I had on hand. I will have to get the saltwater version. I also need something for the chloromanes (sp?). The Tetra has something for the chlorine (and some flocking and mild water softner).

    NOTE: Edited Content. I have now found out Aquasafe has additives for Chloramine AND heavy metals. The Seachem Prime (SW version) doesn't have the heavy metal additive.


    So..in your opinion. Using LR from the get-go is better than just water/dead sand for cycling? I want to get a full cycle and from what I have read (on here and at other forums) the LR can give you no cycle, delayed cycle, or even a false cycle. I plan on running the tank for a long time naked and then slowly introducing flora/fauna. I don't want to get away from the streamlined design of this tank (with added equipment) so I will do it slow and right the first time. So your input is helping to shape my tank.

    Oh...and thanks for info about the lights. I was amazed how flipping bright they are compared to my FW tanks (with boosted lighting already). I guess some of those meatier Halide setups can give you a tan thru the tank? :)

    Jay
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2009
    undrpsi, Jan 5, 2009
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  4. undrpsi

    daugherty part time reefer

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    ok the tap water has lots of things that are bad for salt water like phosphates along with other nutrients that we try to keep at a mimminum not just colrine and clorimine. i recommend that every person uses mostly LR and dry sand not the dry live sand. as long as it is an aragonite sand i use aragamax it is a sugar sized sand. then go to the LFS and get a couple pounds of real live sand from them to seed the dry sand you put in the tank. and if you get good cured live rock and some live sand from te lfs you could skip a cycle altogeter. when i switched from my 50gal to my 75 i added everything to my 75 from the 50 execpt for the sand that is all new and i added about 5 pounds of live sand that the LFS took out of one of there tanks and i did not have a cycle at all. but i am getting all the different kinds of nusince alages back.
     
    daugherty, Jan 5, 2009
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  5. undrpsi

    messiah023

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    Undrpsi,

    First, welcome to the site and the wonderful, yet expensive, world of saltwater aquaria.

    Hopefully I can give you some good information.
    Saltwater tanks are similar to freshwater, with some significant differences.

    Your bio-cube 29g will be a fine starter "test" tank for you.

    First thing you should do is go to the ARTICLES section of this site and read some tank setup information.

    There are some major parts of your SW tank that you should take care to do correctly. The worst thing to happen is 3-months down the road you tell yourself "Crap, I wish I did ... at the beginning".

    Here are some tips :

    #1 WATER
    Tap water will be detrimental to your system over time. Best to start out properly with RO/DI water. You can pickup a 100gpd system for about $80 bucks online.
    If you don't want to invest now, most LFS will sell RO/DI water or PREMIX water to you. My local shop sells both for $1/gallon.
    Weekly water changes of 10% are suggested in small tanks.
    This helps freshen the water and keep it clean and filled with trace elements.
    *NOTE : When water evaporates from your system, the salt remains and only the water goes. TOP-OFFS SHOULD BE DONE WITH RO/DI WATER, NOT MIXED. (see test kits below).

    #2 SAND & ROCKS
    Sand and rocks are not just there for the aesthetic value. Live Sand and Live rocks form the basis of your biological filtration. Unlike freshwater tanks where mechanical filtration is used (ie. bio-wheel, canister filters, etc), saltwater tanks need natural biological filtration which is found in the live rock & live sand we add to the tanks.
    Make sure you get some LR & LS in that tank. Aragonite sand (not crushed coral) and live rock can be purchased online or at the LFS.
    Typically, you should have 1-1.5 lbs of rock per gallon and anywhere from 2-6" on the sandbed.

    #3 LIGHTING
    Your stock lighting is fine for a FOWLER setup, since fish don't REQUIRE specific lighting needs. Get yourself a timer and setup an 8-hour lighting scheme. If your lights are on too long, you could develop algae problems. If you wish to get inverts or corals, you will need much better lighting, typically 3-4watts per gallon.

    #4 TEST KITS
    You will need a saltwater testing kit. The kits consist of chemical tests for PH, Nitrates, Nitrites, and ammonia. If you plan on corals, a reef kit adds phosphates, calcium and Kh. Also, I would pickup a Hydrometer or Refractometer to measure your SG / Salinity of your water. Testing the salinity of your tank is important as water evaporates, but salt stays behind.

    #5 SKIMMER
    The bio-skimmer that you are using stinks (in my opinion). Many people have success with it, but I didn't. You may want to opt for a sapphire skimmer for the bio-cube. The skimmer will help keep the nutrients in your tank to a minimum and keep the water quality to a maximum.

    #6 THE CYCLE
    When you add live rock & live sand to your tank, you will most likely have a cycle....everyone does. The nitrogen cycle is a natural occurance when adding these things and usually takes from 1 - 6 weeks (depending on amount of rocks). The cycle will begin with ammonia spiking, then nitrite spiking, ending with nitrate. At this time, you should do a majority water change and wait another week, monitoring the numbers. If the numbers remain ok (no ammonia or nitrites) you can start adding livestock.

    #8 WATER MOVEMENT
    Water movement (current) is critical in your tank. The returns you have should be OK, but additional powerheads should be used. You should have a return pointed at the surface of the water, creating ripples, to help circulate the water and aerate the tank. Additional powerheads can be placed in the tank to also circulate water and deter dead spots. A Koralia #1 should be sufficient for a 29g. I have (2) #1s in my 30g.

    #9 CLEAN UP CREW
    A small clean-up crew for your tank will be a benefit. They eat uneaten foods and fish waste. Also, nassarius snails will sift your sand and clean the sandbed. A mixture of snails and hermit crabs is typical.

    #10 LIVESTOCK
    Make sure you don't OVER populate your tank and add livestock slowly. You are limited on your selection with a 29g tank and should purchase accordingly. Clowns, Chromis, Gobies, Blennies & Wrasses are good choices. Keep non-agressive fish with like fish (you should know this being from the FW world).

    #11 FEEDING
    Typically, people feed using frozen rather than pellets or dry foods. Phosphate buildup is usually the most common reason for this. I feed frozen mysis to my 30g tank with (4) fish once every other day.

    Hopefully this long-winded post (RIP FATMAN) will get you going in the right direction.

    TAKE YOUR TIME & ASK A LOT OF QUESTIONS.
    Doing so will make this hobby more enjoyable to you.
    Pickup some books and learn about the livestock & different methods of keeping saltwater tanks & reefs.

    Good luck!
     
    messiah023, Jan 5, 2009
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  6. undrpsi

    yote Ceritfied Mantis Hunter Moderator

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    +1 for Messiah

    From what I'm understanding from your post,you actually want a full blown cycle,right?
    If thats the case,order a nano box of live rock from the 2 docs.I guarantee if you add shipped live rock,you'll have a hell of a cycle ( mine went a little over 2 months ).
    You can only skip the cycle by using good cured rock that you buy local.

    As for using the dead coral to buffer the water.It'll only dissolve and add the natural buffers if the PH falls below 7.0.Which is fatal for any thing thats living in the tank.
     
    yote, Jan 5, 2009
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  7. undrpsi

    Bifferwine I am a girl

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    Yote is right about the dead coral. You shouldn't have to worry about it being a buffer so much. The coral skeleton is not going to dissolve any time this decade, so it's not going to do much in the way of buffering.

    The tap water treatment you're using to neutralize chlorine and chloramine will make your skimmer go crazy. All tap water conditioners do. You can't run a skimmer with tap water because of this. Plus, there's tons of stuff in tap water that the conditioners don't take out that are harmful, namely phosphates and nitrates. You'll regret using tapwater if you don't switch to RODI water ASAP. Algae problems are already an uphill battle in this hobby and using tapwater just gives algae a major upper hand.

    The tank you got is a great starter tank. It's perfect for fish only with live rock (FOWLR) and you can also keep some easy corals in it.
     
    Bifferwine, Jan 6, 2009
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  8. undrpsi

    Piggy

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    Everyone has you covered so I'll say "Welcome to the Reef".
     
    Piggy, Jan 6, 2009
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  9. undrpsi

    simpleman

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    Welcome. Only thing I can add is if you ever use copper treatments for your fowlr you won't be able to keep a reef tank. Copper kills inverts.
     
    simpleman, Jan 6, 2009
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  10. undrpsi

    sen5241b

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    I have the BC29 and you may wish to look at the rather involved issue of turning the back chambers in to a fuge. There is huge amount of info on this out there on the web.

    I have the Oceanic biocube skimmer. I added a more powerful air pump and a larger limewood airstone and it does a decent job. If you don't have bucks for an RO/DI filter you can take a dozen 1G jugs to Whole Foods and use their water filter machine. Call'em first.
     
    sen5241b, Jan 6, 2009
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  11. undrpsi

    undrpsi

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    Hey All...

    Ok. Spent the weekend tank-hugging :)

    Water sample was tested at LFS. Only 'bad' was PH..a little low...but I got some PH-UP additive for it.

    LFS said "yeah...you should have purchased your water from us or another shop...but...here's how you fix what you have". He said our local water is typical and warned me about what could happen if I didn't stay on top of it. I purchased @ 20 pounds of live rock and two damsels. He said the tank could be up to 6 weeks to cycle and might not cycle at all due to live rock.

    I did get 5 gals of aged fresh water (he said do NOT stock aged salt water because it will scramble your salinity). He said add freshwater then, if needed, add salt to bring up your readings.

    Thanks All!

    Jay
     
    undrpsi, Jan 12, 2009
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  12. undrpsi

    dustin_P74

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    wow lots of bad information he gave you. damage control time.

    1. how could his water be any better then yours if your both getting it from the same place.

    2. take out the damsels, they arent needed to cycle a tank and its cruel to put fish through the cycling process.

    3. dont add salt to your tank, add it to the water before it goes into your tank to make sure that it is correct before it goes into your tank
     
    dustin_P74, Jan 12, 2009
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  13. undrpsi

    undrpsi

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    Dustin,

    1. No..he meant buy his RO/DI water. He has it available (you supply the containers).
    2. I wasn't planning on adding the fish. I only went in to get the LR. He said the fish would help the cycle but weren't required...Since they were only a couple of bucks (and I don't like looking at an empty tank)...I got them. He didn't force them on me. He just said it would help. He did explain about their territorial tendancies but since they were so small and as long as the next fish were slightly larger there shouldn't be a problem.
    3. He didn't say add salt to the tank. He said to keep my stored water salt free. He explained that when I do water changes (say 5 gallons) to mix the salt and water for 1.025 THEN add it to the tank...but...be careful because when the water evaporates the salt doesn't...so the salinity can creep up if you're not being careful.

    I must not have explained myself very well...because I agree with everything you said :)

    The only thing I 'oopsed' on was the tap water. Which, yes even the LFS, said was bad but fixable. Everything else has pretty muched matched what's been posted on here.

    Ok...the fish were maybe a little too much too soon...but for less than what a Whopper costs I can atleast stare at something while the tank does it's thing. I mean..it's not going to 'hurt' the tank cycling (but actually could help kick it off right?). Not to mention that I probably have (but not seen) some hitch-hikers on the LR.

    Thanks for the input! Keep it coming!

    Jay
     
    undrpsi, Jan 12, 2009
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  14. undrpsi

    dustin_P74

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    it wont hurt the cycle but it will hurt the fish, the fish could die from ammonia poisoning, or nitrite poisoning, or if they do live the will pretty much kill all the other fish or make there life a living hell
     
    dustin_P74, Jan 12, 2009
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  15. undrpsi

    undrpsi

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    :confused:

    Because of their tendancy for teritory? or...??

    Jay
     
    undrpsi, Jan 12, 2009
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  16. undrpsi

    dustin_P74

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    because they will fight to the death to protect their territory
     
    dustin_P74, Jan 12, 2009
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  17. undrpsi

    undrpsi

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    Hmm...looks like you're right. Good thing you told me. I guess I'll call my LFS to see if I can return them when I start really stocking my tank. My LFS is cool about stuff like that...luckily.

    Thanks for prepping me about this... :)

    Jay
     
    undrpsi, Jan 12, 2009
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  18. undrpsi

    yote Ceritfied Mantis Hunter Moderator

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    If you want other fish later on,you'd be better off taking those damsels out NOW.They're a pain to catch in an empty tank.Impossible to catch in a tank loaded with rock and other live stock.
    And just because their small,dont mean they aint a--holes.They can and will stress a fish 3 times their size to death.
     
    yote, Jan 12, 2009
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  19. undrpsi

    dustin_P74

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    you know the saying, big things come in small packages? they were referring to the aggression in these fish
     
    dustin_P74, Jan 12, 2009
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  20. undrpsi

    Bifferwine I am a girl

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    I agree with what others have said about the damsels. They have no problems bullying larger fish. My blue damsels kills any corals I put in its territory. They will kill each other, and other fish, and are not necessary for cycling.

    I also agree with the other info that your LFS gave you.
     
    Bifferwine, Jan 13, 2009
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