OKAY, this may be pretty lengthly;
we had a 125 gallon reef aquarium, livestock in it, which we transferred was/is as follows -
one black ocellaris
one orange ocellaris
one orange percale
one lawnmower blenny
one foxface rabbit fish
one niger trigger
an assortment of hermit crabs and snails
3 zoanthid corals
2 mushroom corals
1 bubble tip anemone
the 125 gallon had crushed coral for the substrate, and about 75 lbs of live rock. we had a AquaClear 110, and a fluval 306? for filters; one powerhead and two T8 bulbs; one blue one white bulb. and a heater. this tank was THRIVING.
was beautiful and everything was working wonderfully, but we had to downsize it to a 90 gallon due to limited space.
we had gotten crushed oyster shells, 2 bags, so we decided that would make a good substrate, we put them in the bottom of the 90 gallon.
we also purchased 75 lbs of liverock at 1$ a lb off someone who needed to get rid of it; and we placed this in the tank and built it up as we saw fit. we were also told that liverock would help maintain a stable pH, which we were having trouble with. we took the LR
out of the existing 125 gallon tank and placed it in the 90 gallon as well.
we turned off the 125gallon system; moved the UV
sterilizer, fluval, powerhead, heater and lights over to the new tank. took 1/2 the water out of the 125 and put it into the new tank. we placed the fish in buckets, alternating the 3 buckets with the airpump; and we placed all the corals in seperate containers for 10minutes max.
we took the rest of the water we needed out of the 125 and put it into the 90 gallon, trying to save as much as possible. in all we only needed to prepare about 15 gallons of fresh saltwater, from the tap which we dechlorinated; which was added in last finally we added some "cycle" to the tank.
we did a nitrite test prior to starting this, and they were undetectable in the 125.
we put the corals in after the liverock. then we added the fish. then the anemone. and finally the rest of the water. booted up the system and all was working wonderfully.
we waited an hour or so and finally did another nitrite test, when they read off the charts high. we did another water change (about 5%) and waited an hour to test again and.....we were out of testing drops.
everyone in the tank was happy and thriving at first. tips on the BTA were inflated, all fish swimming happily; tested pH and it was at 7.6 so we added sodium bicarbonate; shortly after this, most fish were on the ground breathing heavily, gasping for (air?); all corals were not looking bright and happy, had shrunk and shrivelled. turned lights off in the tank ; but UV
sterilizer is still running.
levels in new aquarium are reading :
pH - 8.0 (with addition of sodium bicarbonate to keep the pH up)
temp - 79 F
salinity - 1.019 - 1.020
nitrite - read through the roof earlier today; went to retest and OH JOY, i'm out of test liquid.
nitrate - same as above.
free ammonia - undetectable
total ammonia - visible
so far we have lost the niger trigger and the foxface. two of my favourites in the tank. i'm attributing this to the higher nitrite levels? low pH? addition of sodium bicarbonate?
so we would like to know ---
how to stabilize pH?
how to lower nitrite/nitrate/ammonia levels?
is sodium bicarbonate safe to be adding?
how to ensure this doesn't continue to happen?
so frustrating! still new to this, so please be nice.