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Old 05-11-2006, 10:35 AM   #1
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Best place to spend money for my tank?

54g with 63lb LR, 3" sand bed, Remora, lonely O clown fish, almost no cleanup crew left
High nitrates, but otherwise OK params. Minor cyano and other algea problems. Not great alk, but no corals to speak of so I'm not worried.

I've been lazy and my tank needs attention. Trying to get back into the WC habit. I need to get the tank back in shape before I add any other fish. People (wife) are starting to complain about the way the tank looks and how empty it is. I lost a cleaner shrimp and a blenny after a month or so of having them (6 mo ago maybe). I think due to nitrates.

Options:
remora surface skimmer ($30)
more cleanup crew ($140 for a big kit. worried they'll die off from nitrates)
10g cheato fuge (all I have room for) and a small pump ($?)
Denitrifer coil ($diy? lots of time involved)
20lb More LR ($$$)
something else?

As I mentioned, I'm lazy, so I like the idea of something that will cut nitrates even if I forget to do WC as much as I should.

thoughts?
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54g all-glass bowfront corner planted FW

Red tiger lilly, Rotala Indica, Sagittaria Subulata, Micro Sword, Cardinal Plant
Fluorite Black sand and gravel
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Old 05-11-2006, 10:53 AM   #2
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Being “lazy” in this hobby deserves to “not be in this hobby” IMO. With a 54g and only one fish there is no reason to have levels of no3 beyond 20 ppm which is the highest it should be for a FO/FOWLR tank. Simple 20% pwc once a month would be sufficient to keep your tank at that level assuming you don’t overfeed and if you can’t do that then return the fish to the lfs and pack your tank up.

What are your current no3 levels now? Your algae breakout is from your high levels of no3 and probably po4. Getting a clean up crew of hermits/snails of 1 per 3-5 gal would help but you need to do enough pwc to get the no3 under control before adding.

As for all the other “quick fixes” to no3 problems nothing replaces a good pwc schedule which is needed for nutrient export and trace element replacement. The only thing I’d recommend off your list is the 10g lighted cheato fuge with monthly trimming and removal of excess growth.
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Old 05-11-2006, 11:15 AM   #3
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Unless I come up with another system, the most I can change is 5g every other day. I am exploring the idea of plumbing an easier WC system than buckets and stairs. This would help with the laziness, and probably be better overall. I've got 100' of 1/2" hose I was planning to use for this purpose but never got around to setting up. If I got a 10-15g reservoir and a way to pump it up the stairs I might do 20% WC every week instead of 5g whenever I remember. It would also keep me from leaving the RODI on for 30 hours like I did yesterday (still upset at myself for that one).
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Fluorite Black sand and gravel
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Old 05-11-2006, 11:22 AM   #4
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Oh yeah. Gotta get the trates in order before any new cleanup crew. They will die quickly IMO.

On the cyano, what kinda circulation in the tank. Dead spots? might need to kick up the flow and let the skimmer help. Then again, I'm not familiar with surface skimmers. Wonder if it'll help with the trates by sucking up the dirt I'm trying to get you to kick up. Still, a good vacuum/water change might help quite a bit for now.
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Old 05-11-2006, 11:24 AM   #5
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Even 5 gal a week or every other week should be enough to keep your no3 in check. A large 40%+ pwc will probably be needed for significant no3 reduction to start though. A Mag 9.5 would work well in pumping it up one level. I use a 32 gal trashcan on wheels for my pwc schedule and just roll it out once a week to do my 8 gal pwc. The whole process takes less then 15 minutes.

I’m really surprised you let your tank go actually. You have always advocated pwc in the past and advise well here. I guess we all slip up sometimes but you owe it to your Clown to keep up with the tank.
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Old 05-11-2006, 11:45 AM   #6
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yeah, I have been busy with other things. Having the blenny and cleaner die frustrated me after such a long QT (for the blenny) and really turned me off for a while. It made me question whether QT was a good idea, since he was terrified in the QT and didn't eat. he was happier in the main tank, but didn't last long (I think because he didn't eat much).

I'm not too worried about the cyano, because it's mostly gone. my phosban reactor has helped a lot with that. Really most of the ugliess is other stuff which a cleanup crew could handle. My astreas are all gone now, and I've only got a couple nass left. I've got a lot of little critters in the sand, but it's getting black underneath in some places even though it's not that deep. I think I really need more cleanup crew. But, your point about the nitrates is well taken. What level of nitrates can they handle? I want to get them in as soon as possible.

My problem with pumping is that because of where my tank is, I'd have to drill my hardwoods, and then somehow drill through the ceiling below that to get the pipe through. This is what's stopped me in the past. I'll have to think about it.
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Old 05-11-2006, 02:41 PM   #7
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If you are considering hermits/snails/shrimp I’d get your no3 at or below 20 ppm and closer to 10ppm if it’s not that high now.

With 100’ of hose you can’t just run it up the stairs to the tank and roll it back up when not in use?
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