warning: many stupid newbie questions

Discussion in 'Reef Fishes' started by michelle, Nov 28, 2007.

  1. michelle

    michelle

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    Hello!
    Background:

    I have a 33 gallon aquarium that I have had running as a saltwater aquarium for about 3 months now. I have a crushed coral substrate, 25 lbs live rock (more to be added soon-1-2 lbs a gallon right?), 2 hagan filters (one 70 gallon one 50 gallon), and a powerhead. The waterflow is about 600 gallons. I plan to add a skimmer but was advised by the lfs to wait until the tank is running about 6-8 months.
    The cycle took about 3-4 weeks, I monitored everything closely and once ammonia, nitrites and nitrates were all 0 I waited another 10 days before adding anything. (although I did have 5 small snails, a small star and a sally lightfoot hitchhike on my rock). Then I added a clownfish.

    Now:
    The fish and my hitchhikers are all doing fine, but I had a small outbreak of brown algae. I had the water tested at the lfs (i am picking my own kits up this weekend) and my ammonia is at about 0.5 and my nitrates are 0.3

    Questions: (sorry:S there are a few)
    1. How bad are my levels? What should I do about the brown algae?

    2. does anybody see any problems with my setup so far? It's a work in progress on a budget, but I am trying to get everything I need followed by the niceties (did I mention "on a budget"? not to sound cheap, but this is an expensive hobby to start:S)

    3. My live rock: 2 pieces have gotten to be a nice dark purple/red color, the other has actually faded-why? is it a poorer quality? is it dying off?

    4. I am being given a 20 gallon tank...what would be its best use? sump/refugium? And I have no idea how to do either (but I will research that to save anybody from having to type it all out)

    5. I was told I should wait and increase my experience level before attempting to add coral-which works ok b/c i havendt got the lighting yet,but, is there a reasonbly priced way to set up the appropriate lighting? I currently have a 24 inch ocean light by zoo-med.

    ok, I will stop.
    I know my inexperience screams out through my questions, I hope you aren't annoyed by me already, I have only been on the forum an hour:)
    Thank you so much for any help or answers you can offer:bowdown:
     
    michelle, Nov 28, 2007
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  2. michelle

    MikMcgyver Vlamingi owner 4 life!

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    First off, Welcome to the reef... Happy to have you here. First off, no questions are dumb, everyone starts somewhere...

    Question #1... Your levels seem fine. Have you checked your salinity? What do you top off with? Did you do a water change after the levels dropped? Usually your biggest water change before you start stocking it.. I did a 80 gallon on my 125 a couple of weeks ago after I finished my cycle..The brown algae is most likely diatons, just part of the normal cycle of the tank, they will pass...

    Question #2... You may have a issue with the crushed coral. Over time it will collect detrius and become a nitrate concern.. I would add a skimmer as soon as possible with a sump(you mentioned the 20 gallon tank), that can be added anytime. Lot of article in here to tell you how to do that..

    Question #3... LR, its ok, the rock will change as it starts to regrow. All mine was bone white when I started and now its starting to turn green again.. Die off is normal, prolly all done since your cycle is over...

    Question #4... Lighting is important when it comes to corals. Reeffreak will chime in on what you need there..He helped me and pretty much everyother new person to saltwater on this forum...

    Keep the question coming and post pics if you get a chance..
     
    MikMcgyver, Nov 28, 2007
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  3. michelle

    Bifferwine I am a girl

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    Hey. Good questions. I'll add my two cents to them...

    Good job waiting through the cycle and adding stuff afterwards. Patience is key. As long as your ammonia and nitrites are zero and your nitrates are close to zero (under 20 is good), that's fine.

    I agree with Mike, that it's better to use aragonite sand instead of crushed coral. Crushed coral can lead to water quality issues. I also don't understand why your LFS would have told you to wait on a skimmer. A skimmer is probably the most important piece of equipment you will buy for your tank. You should get one ASAP. And get a good one -- stay away from SeaClones and Red Sea Prizms.

    Live rock will experience some die off and color change, that's normal. Your brown algae is likely diatoms, which normally follow a new cycle. There isn't much you can do about them, just wait it out. You will get diatom outbreaks occasionally, but as your tank matures they will become more infrequent.

    Check out T5 lights for your tank. You could get a brand new set of nice T5s for less than $200 for a tank that size. And you can keep pretty much any kind of coral you want under T5s.
     
    Bifferwine, Nov 28, 2007
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  4. michelle

    yote Ceritfied Mantis Hunter Moderator

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    Biff and Mike has you pretty well covered on your parameters.
    As for your rock changing colors,Its going to happen.The coralline will darken,get lighter,turn white at times.
    Just be sure to keep an eye on your calcium and alkalinity even though you dont have corals yet.Now is as good a time as any to get used to keeping those 2 parameters up.
     
    yote, Nov 28, 2007
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  5. michelle

    poppinfresh

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    First off....welcome to this crazy hobby.

    You have much to learn going forward. I would highly recommend that you check out a couple free podcasts that have a lot of info for beginners, Talking Reef and Reefcast. They are free to download and listen to with a program like Itunes.
     
    poppinfresh, Nov 28, 2007
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  6. michelle

    reeffreak

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    Welcome to the site.

    I have nothing to add without repeating what everyone else said.Anymore questions feel free to ask.
     
    reeffreak, Nov 28, 2007
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  7. michelle

    Bifferwine I am a girl

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    WAIT A MINUTE! I DO HAVE SOMETHING TO ADD! Check out the "Helpful Articles" link at the top of the page. :)
     
    Bifferwine, Nov 28, 2007
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  8. michelle

    michelle

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    I was told that I needed the crushed coral substrate to maintain my ph. I had originally wanted argonite. Is there anything i need to keep in mind about changing the substrate? should I wait a little while for the ammonia level to drop again?
    The LFS said that to start a skimmer on a new tank would take away some of the beneficial bactaria.
    I will pick up the t5 lighting this weekend probably, but how do I add it to the tank? my canopy only holds the one flourescent light...any ideas, budget in mind?:p
    Thanks for your help so far.
    I added a couple of pictures to the fish album. I had forgotten to mention I have a scat, he was sold to me as fresh, then i found out he was brackish. I converted my aquarium (rather easily) and he enjoyed his home there for about 8 months, then i learned that they are marine fish once they are adults...and so started my saltwater obsession:) anyway his picture is there and my nemo (not a creative name...but i have a 2 year old, he thinks nemo is living with us, who ai i to tell him different:))
    I will also look at skimmers this weekend.
    I'll keep you posted...
     
    michelle, Nov 28, 2007
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  9. michelle

    michelle

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    oh, and i have read that a scat needs at least a 40 gallon tank...i am upgrading to a 55gallon soon. (within the next 3 months anyway) My scat is still small, about 2 inches, but he will be in the appropriate size tank before he gets much bigger
     
    michelle, Nov 28, 2007
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  10. michelle

    reeffreak

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    You can change out the substrate at any time as long as there's no animals in the tank.You have to put everything in a holding tank because most likely it will start another cycle,it might be short lived though.To reduce the cycle time or maybe eliminate it all together,I would get live sand in that case.

    When you mean canopy,do you mean a wood canopy?
    Or do you mean a plastic top with the florescent strip light built in/on it?

    Many fixtures come with tank stands.All they do is sit on the tank rims.You can run an open top,use eggcrate or glass tops.IMO,I think it would be better to get a skimmer before the lights if you can't get both now.

    Nice polka dotted fish,btw.
     
    reeffreak, Nov 28, 2007
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  11. michelle

    Bifferwine I am a girl

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    I agree with Freak. Skimmer is more important than lights. You don't need good lights until you get corals.
     
    Bifferwine, Nov 28, 2007
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  12. michelle

    RigoSharon LIVING REEFS INTERN

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    nothing new to add..just wanted to say hi and welcome!!..dont forget some pics!!
     
    RigoSharon, Nov 28, 2007
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  13. michelle

    michelle

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    oh, i meant the plastic top. so how would i set up the light(s) without that?
    I will pick up he skimmer soon.
    Thanks again:)
     
    michelle, Nov 28, 2007
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  14. michelle

    Bifferwine I am a girl

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    You won't need the plastic top at all. Any new lights that you buy will come either mounted on legs (so they sit on your tank) or hang from the ceiling above your tank.
     
    Bifferwine, Nov 28, 2007
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  15. michelle

    yote Ceritfied Mantis Hunter Moderator

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    Your tank will breath better without the tops too.Not to mention it will help keep it from getting to warm.
     
    yote, Nov 29, 2007
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  16. michelle

    kimoy CERTIFIED BUM

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    welcome to LR and to this adiicting expensive hobby...

    all i can add is when you get the lights, make sure to buy the fixture not the retro since you are not running a canopy. and oh set up the sump ASAP and ditch the filters you have now. those are a PITA IMO
     
    kimoy, Nov 29, 2007
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  17. michelle

    michelle

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    Hi again,
    I went to the 3 "fish" stores and 4 "pet stores" in my area looking for a protien skimmer. They all carry only the sea clone. Can anyone recommend somewhere online that will ship to Canada? And what brand I should look at.
    Also, my brown algae has spread to the rocks and substrate...still nothing to worry about? hopefully? I did a 50% water change yesterday.
    Thanks everyone, youv'e been a lot of help.
     
    michelle, Nov 30, 2007
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  18. michelle

    Bifferwine I am a girl

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    Good choice skipping the SeaClone. That's really a bad skimmer. I think Pet Supplies, Dog Supplies, Cat Supplies, Pet Meds & Pet Products: Drs. Foster & Smith Pet Supplies ships to Canada. There are a few people on here from Canada that hopefully will see your question and can help you first hand!
    The best hang-on-back skimmer, in my opinion, is the Aqua C Remora Pro. The Coralife Super Skimmers are also very good, and a little bit cheaper than Aqua C. I also like the Octopus brand a lot, which is what I run on my tank. Those are the three I would recommend. You might want to google those and see what sites sell them and if they ship to Canada.

    The brown algae is going to be around for a while in a new tank. Especially without a skimmer running to pull the nutrients out of the water. Up 20% water changes weekly should be sufficient for now, you don't want to do big water changes like 50% if you can help it.
     
    Bifferwine, Nov 30, 2007
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  19. michelle

    yote Ceritfied Mantis Hunter Moderator

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    Since your on a budget like most of us,Look at the Coralife Super Skimmers.
    I'm running the 65 on my 75 and love it.
     
    yote, Dec 1, 2007
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  20. michelle

    d.french

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    big als online has a canada site
     
    d.french, Dec 1, 2007
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