Okay there was a lot of help here which I appreciate, so I'll try to answer all the queries at once:
1. I typically use ocean water captured from the ocean, and purchased at my local LFS
. I measure amonia, nitrites and nitrates, ph
and calcium and they all seem "okay".
2. I am about to try tap water, which I have conditioned to remove chlorine and chloramide?? I haven't tesed it for anything else yet, but I will and buffer as required. Is this what you mean by RO
3. I put in a phosphate pad which hasn't seemed to do much for the levels. It's been in there for aboug 1.5 months with consistend phosphate levels of 0.25. I am not sure what to do in this regard.
4. My fish do eat a lot. I give them frozen food which I just disolve the block of food in a cup of marine water and slowly pour in as they eat whats in there. I think I might start draining this as much as possible from now on.
5. I am getting a wave maker for my power head next weekend so that will be a good experiment to see what happens.
6. There isn't any "dead water" that I know of. The effected area is open and just down from the suction out hose so there should be water movement. However it would be reasonable to see that it is not a lot though. Perhaps once the wavemaker is in I can get another powerhead to mix it up a little more.
7. I do not have a skimmer because 1) I don't have the room and 2) they're $250 which I cannot afford really. Plus I have read many success stories without one. Advice in this regard would be much appreciated.
8. I did lack on the water changing aspect for a while there. It's been 2 months since I did one and I am only to blame for this. I will be doing one in a couple of hours once the water heats up.
9. The same goes for changing the pre-filter pads. They were filthy and that's all my doing. I will be changing them once a fortnight until this is fixed up. The canister filter smelt like crap - as if something was dead in there, and the pre-filter was a very very deep brown - filthy.
10. This chemi clean seems interesting. I would like to know where to buy this in Australia as no LFS
that I know of carry it. Any suggestions where I can get this? I tried to import a wave maker from Fraser and Smith but they wanted $75US to ship a $40US item which is insane.
11. I am always keeping a close eye on my KH
levels, however I think my CA
levels may be off a little. Depending on what light I look at the resultant test colour I get different results. What's the "best" light to view these test results under? It seems if I use the aquarium light, I reach the colour goal faster than if I use other light sources. Why?
I think once this thread has resolved everyone's problems I might write up a summary article and offer it to anyone having the problems. It seems very common in my experience.
Thanks in advance for the answers.