Newbie here - LOTS of Questions

Discussion in 'New to Reefing' started by Becki67, Apr 10, 2008.

  1. Becki67

    Becki67

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    Hello Everyone,

    We just set up our tank over the weekend. The first thing we did was buy 40 lbs of Live Rock (ouch! Expensive!) We're getting more but we have to absorb that $300 cost. We let that sit for a few days and took a sample to the local fish store. He tested it and said it's good to go and encouraged us to buy "starter" fish. We bought two blue damsels and 2 clown fish.

    Well it's been 5 days and I tested the water last night and the ammonia was at 2 and the nitrite was at 1. I'm freaking out. I tried to tell my Bfriend not to put the fish in yet and wait, but the doorknob at the store convinced him it would be okay. I've had conflicting advice today...one reputable tropical fish store said to change 25% of the water and another one said to leave it alone...it's natural and the fish are hardy enough to withstand it. Also, I tested right after I fed the fish....is there a certain time that's good to test the water?

    We've orderd the Halide lights and in the meantime are using regular lights that came with the tank. We are running two powerheads and a fluval filter system. The protein skimmer is coming next, but it night be a week or two out.

    Also, I haven't seen anything about the salinity in the tank. What is the optimal salinity range for a 75 gallon tank.

    How bad did we screw up?
     
    Becki67, Apr 10, 2008
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  2. Becki67

    Rcpilot

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    You LFS guy is an idiot.

    The salinity should be about 1.022---1.026

    You should take the clownfish back and let the tank pump for a full month with no animals in it. KILL the damsels. :mrgreen:

    It needs to cycle. It takes time. Reefing is not a fast paced hobby. Slow and steady will reward you more in the long wrong. Take your time. When you think you're ready to stock it up to the max--have some more patience and wait some more. Less fish is better than more.

    What you need RIGHT now is to take all those fish out and return them to the store.

    Go to the grocery store and buy a small frozen shrimp from the deli. Toss it in the tank and wait. When it's gone and the tank stops stinking--check nitrates and see where you're at. If they are above 10ppm--change 30% of the water and go buy a coral or a fish. ONE coral or fish-- NOT 3.

    Wait a month or 2. Do weekly water changes. Check chemistry twice a week. LEARN your tank. Water stable? Go buy ONE animal.

    SLOW acclimation is best on just about ALL animals you will add to the tank. SLOW means 3hrs. A fast and dangerous acclimation would be 1hr IMO.

    Just do everything slow. Slow down. Chill out. Plan. Go slow.

    Did I mention to go slow? :Cheers:
     
    Rcpilot, Apr 10, 2008
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  3. Becki67

    Becki67

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    I'm trying to do that! I've got my b-friend who bought the fish and is out of town for the next two weeks. He has all the receipts and I don't think they'll refund them without the receipt. I told them I thought it was too soon and they told me that if they die within the week, they'll replace them when we're ready. That's kind of a cruel test, if you ask me. I don't want these little guys to suffer.

    What's wrong with damsels? I noticed a lot of people don't like them. They're kind of boring, if you ask me, but we were told they were hardy for starter fish.

    What about the skimmer....is that something that we need immediately?
     
    Becki67, Apr 10, 2008
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  4. Becki67

    Becki67

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    One other thing....did you say I should take it slow?
     
    Becki67, Apr 10, 2008
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  5. Becki67

    cthegame

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    I agree with RCpilot.

    Damsels are extremely aggressive. After your cycle is complete, you should remove them asap and take it back to the LFS. If you dont; chances are they will kill your new fish. Also, they will be extremely hard to catch so make sure you take care of this while the tank is still new.
    IMO, take them back as soon as you can.

    About skimmer, i would get one. Besides live rock, what other filteration do you currently have? A skimmer & live rock is all the filtration you will need. That and the weekly water change. You dont need a skimmer to keep a tank but without one, your job will be harder. IMP, they are the best thing to ever come out of this hobby. Fairly cheap, dont require additional media and work very well. Get one if you can.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2008
    cthegame, Apr 10, 2008
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  6. Becki67

    Becki67

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    Well that raises another question...finding a fish store that actually knows what they're talking about. They told me that the green damsels are very docile and we should go with the blue ones. I was okay with docile, actually.

    Does anyone know of one close to Dayton, Ohio?
     
    Becki67, Apr 10, 2008
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  7. Becki67

    FNG44601

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    If you told the guy at the first store the same story you're telling us.... I wouldn't go back- sounds like he just wants to sell you stuff. Of Course your parameters are going to be fine in newly mixed water.
    The damsels are going to go nuts if you add another fish- and you don't want a $6 fish stressing out one you paid some money for. But I would give it at the very least a month before I would've added anything.
    There's another guy in my city who rushed into his tank- likely did the same thing as you- after close to a year of starting our tanks. I have EVERY fish that I bought and who knows how much money this guy has spent on fish.
    I say that to say- you can't rush mother nature! There is so much other stuff you can do while you're waiting for this time to pass- but the fun is coming... Hang in there
     
    FNG44601, Apr 10, 2008
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  8. Becki67

    Bifferwine I am a girl

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    Everyone has given some good advice so far.

    Your fish will either die from the ammonia and nitrites (which is why you should NEVER cycle a tank using live fish), or they will survive the cycle and kill any other fish you try to add later on. Damsels are super aggressive and cause tons of headaches down the road when you try to add more fish.

    I agree that the best course of action would be to take the fish back to the store. Since you have already seen a spike in ammonia, you won't need to do anything more to cycle it (adding a piece of food shrimp won't be necessary at this point). What you should do is wait until ammonia and nitrites both go down to zero, then do some water changes to bring nitrates down to an acceptable level (less than 20 is okay, but the closer to zero the better).

    Usually live rock is enough to cycle a tank without having to add anything extra like live fish or food.

    It sounds like you are well on your way. The sooner you can get a protein skimmer the better. Stay away from these two: Red Sea Prizm and SeaClones. They are a waste of money; pieces of junk.
     
    Bifferwine, Apr 10, 2008
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  9. Becki67

    stagofdoom Phi Kappa Psi

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    Looks like biff has ya covered...

    The main thing about this hobby is BE PAITIENT... Its the best thing you can do is wait till everything is good to start adding fish or they will die.
    Yes get a protein skimmer asap too.
    Feel free to ask us anymore questions
     
    stagofdoom, Apr 10, 2008
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  10. Becki67

    Becki67

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    Thanks guys for all the advice...I will DEFINITELY have other questions. I just feel really bad for these fish in there. I notice the damsels are panting a little harder tonight.

    So, do you think if I change out some of the water tonight, I can ease their suffering some or is the damage already done?
     
    Becki67, Apr 10, 2008
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  11. Becki67

    daugherty part time reefer

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    if you change the water i think that it will help but you will just be prolonging the cycle and the fishes health.
     
    daugherty, Apr 10, 2008
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  12. Becki67

    Bifferwine I am a girl

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    Doing a water change to bring down your ammonia and nitrites will help the fish. Make sure the new water is at the correct salinity, temperature and pH before doing the water change. It's best to make up the water at least 24 hours ahead of time before doing a water change to allow the salt to fully dissolve.
     
    Bifferwine, Apr 10, 2008
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  13. Becki67

    reeffreak

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    Doing a water change now will lower ammonia and nitrite but you will remove some of the beneficial bacteria in the water column which possibly cause ammonia to rise back to previous levels and prolonging the cycle.

    I would do nothing or have the LFS hold the fish til your system is ready.
     
    reeffreak, Apr 11, 2008
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  14. Becki67

    RyanG ^*Eternal Dumbass*^

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    Damage is done take the fish out and get them back to a store, any store will be fine to BUY stuff from just dont impulse buy and dont listen to their advice, still ask for it, then come check here and research what you want. Then decide if you want it and purchase accordingly. The only way to find a good fish store is too look for them visit any and all in your area, try and find a local reefing organization(ReefCentral has a very nice listing-mods sorry to plug but I dont know of any other listing as complete) they can also help locate good stores. The best way to shop is to be as knowledgeable as possible before you walk through the doors. You can also look at sites like www.liveaquaria.com to find fish that catch you eye and research them to see what they need to thrive and match them with your system. Then go look for them or order online. Basically go check out all of you local shops and ask around.
     
    RyanG, Apr 11, 2008
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  15. Becki67

    fatman

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    Only a small percenatage of your bacteria that is doing any nitrification is not in your water, but is instead coating surfaces of individual substrate grains exposed to oxygenated water, the surface of live rock and the surface of pore walls in your live rock which is in contact with oxygenated water, as well as the surfaces of the tank and pumps etc. Water changes are always a good idea when ammonia is over 1 ppm during cycling and when any ammonia is present after tank has been cycled. Also try to maintain a zero level of nitrates with coral or anemones in your tank, and below 20 when intertebrates are in your tank. Fish can not live long with any ammonia but can tolerate huge amounts of nitrates. When in doubt always do a water change. An unnecessary water change is the least damaging action anyone can possibly make. That is why a experienced reefer with a high success rate usually keeps a large reserve of water ready for water changes. Enough for a complete water change is recommended but seldom done. Half a tanks volume is probably the average high amount normally kept. My storage tank is in my landlord garage. It is 1200 gallons. Lots of people in Alaska haul their own water so large plastic water tanks are fairly low priced here.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2008
    fatman, Apr 11, 2008
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  16. Becki67

    sen5241b

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    Here's some different advice:

    The fish store almost certainly will not give you your money back for the fish and Damsels are very hardy and just might survive the cycling of your tank. Leave the damsels in and enjoy your fish during the cycle. (You might try some live bacteria to speed up the cycle).

    The others are right though, the blue Damsels will kill anything smaller than themselves and maybe something there own size --so eventually you probably will have to get rid of them or give them away. (BTW, I made the same mistake and watched my blue damsel kill a more expensive fish).

    Number 1 rule of marine tanks: patience, go slow.

    (Anyone want my blue damsel? Seriously.)
     
    sen5241b, Apr 11, 2008
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  17. Becki67

    Becki67

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    I have to say that I'm extremely impressed with the knowledge and the prompt responses on this forum. From now on I won't take a step without checking with you guys first.

    I did actually do about a 10% water change and it seemed to help. Which brings me to my next question....

    What type of test kit is better? I have both strips and the test tubes with all the drops you add. Each one gives me a different result. The test strip showed .5 on ammonia and the drops were closer to 1.

    What do you guys use?
     
    Becki67, Apr 11, 2008
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  18. Becki67

    RyanG ^*Eternal Dumbass*^

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    The liquid tests are more accurate but keep the strips for a quick diagnosis. Most people here use the liquid type
     
    RyanG, Apr 11, 2008
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  19. Becki67

    Becki67

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    Can I ask one more question that I'm sure has already been answered on here somewhere, but when will I know that the tank has cycled? Will everything just go down to 0? Does it sound like my tank is cycling fast? It's not even been a week yet.
     
    Becki67, Apr 11, 2008
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  20. Becki67

    sen5241b

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    I found this animation useful in understanding the cycle but not all tanks will cycle in exactly the same amount of time.

    scroll down then click play
     
    sen5241b, Apr 11, 2008
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