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Old 06-19-2004, 06:24 AM   #11
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I think sumphead hit the nail on the head.. it sounds as though (we may be wrong) you haven't been doing correct water changes. On average, most people do about 20% every two weeks. This is absolutely necessary or, like you've experienced, nitrates begin to accumulate. Also, the salt mix contains pretty much everything needed to provide a healthy environment for your livestock in terms of salts, trace elements, buffers etc. These get depleted over time so replenishment is needed.

What's happened is the water chemistry of your aquarium has gone out of whack, and I wouldn't be surprised if all your other parameters (Ca,Mg,Alk etc) are experiencing the same effects as your pH.

The correct procedure was already mentioned by sumphead so I'll just add that you should make sure to mix up your saltwater the day before you do the water change. The salt itself is quite harsh so it needs time to mix in thoroughly. A powerhead left running in the bucket overnight works well.

Good luck!

PS - You really need much stronger lighting to keep any corals healthy.

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Old 06-19-2004, 07:24 AM   #12
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And more bad news from me after the maintenance concerns. Sorry in advance.

Firstly, how much sand do you have. Is it at least 4 inches deep? If not, its not doing all that a deep sand bed should for filtration.

Change that. Firstly, like has already been stated water change. And lots of them until you water is under control. The PH and nitrate should be taken care of just from that. But your maintenance has really got to improve for the future. Premix your water and adjust it's PH to around 8.2 - 8.4. As you change water out your tank will slowly adjust down, same with the nitrates. I'd suggest more than 20% to get it under control. However I would be afraid that with the water the way it is currently, the shock would be very much bad. So small steps for now.

Secondly. When you say you clean the skimmer a couple times a week. Do you "clean" the skimmer or just dump the cup? I don't currently use a skimmer, but from my understanding it takes a while for it to actually produce waste after every cleaning. If you're not dumping a lot of gunk out (especially at your 'trate lvls), you're probably cleaning it too often for it to do what its supposed to.

Thirdly. What is the output of your pump, and do you have any additional flow? You want to turn your tank over at least 10 times an hour, and preferably around 15 times. If you're getting poor circulation, the water won't get to where the bacteria live for the rock and sand to actually work as a filter.

The good news is that your corals will do much better once your water is in check. Your fish will be happier and live longer also.

Now for the bad.
Firstly, how many chromis do you have? I'm guessing when you say "some" to mean at least 3. That means you've got at least 9 fish already and are still adding. A 55gal standard would be very overstocked at this point. A 55 hex, or any tall tank is seriously overstocked. I'll get to why in a minute. Also, tangs should not be kept in less than a 70gal. Even when they're small they need a bigger tank to be happy. They require a lot of swimming room, which you can't get in a hex shaped tank. The bio-load you currently have is going to make having good water increadibly difficult if not impossible. The "inches of fish per gallon" rule does not apply to saltwater tanks. They should only be stocked to a fraction of what the same size freshwater tank can be. On the plus side, any cleanup crew or corals etc. aren't counted towards the bio-load.

Natural filtration is all about surface area. DSB and live rock have massive amounts of surface area. Significantly more than any WD or other mechanical filter can give. But a hex tank has less available area for the sand and rock to occupy, thus limiting the filters ability to do its job. The water surface area is also important. All the bad gasses have to exit through the surface and be exchaned with oxygen. Again a hex tank has significantly less water surface area for this to happen. If your overflow skims from the surface to pull to the sump, that will greatly aid in the gas exchange. A shallow tank of the same volume gives a lot more surface area for all this to occur in, and stocking guides are aimed at a standard shape tank.

I hate to be a total gloomy gus, but once everything is in check and in control you'll have a nice healthy tank and happy fish. It will be a good chunk of work, but once its done you'll be pleased with the results.

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Old 06-19-2004, 01:20 PM   #13
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Ok, I think we're getting somewhere. It sounds like my main problems are regular water changes (as we were doing none, we thought adding water regularly was the same thing!) and some maintenance issues.

To answer your questions: Our definition of "as needed" on adding Instant Ocean to the water WAS (and was is the operative word as now it has changed) we added Instant Ocean to the water whenever we needed to add water and the SG seemed to be a little low (hence why we only added it 1-2 times since January). We will now add it properly every time we do a water change which will be about 2 times a month from all your great advice.

It was stated I need 4 inches of sand, since I currently have about 2 inches, should I simply add to that or take that out and have 4 inches of all new sand?

When my husband cleans the skimmer he dumps the cup and then he cleans it out with a cloth, he also cleans out the sponge portions from time to time, although I'm not sure how often or how.

We have 6 small chromis, they are all about 1/2 inch big. If you want to know our Blue Tang is about 2 1/2 inches, our Yellow Tang about 1 1/2 inches, our Flames Angel about 1 1/2 inch, our clown about 1 inch and our still dying and not eating Bangai Cardinal about 1 1/2 inches.

Speaking of the fish, while we are changing or adding sand to the tank, what do we do with them? We do not have a second tank. Should be buy a cheap 2nd tank (and I mean just a tank, no filtration) like you would buy for a goldfish and put them in there with a air bubble rock for a few hours or will they be ok in their regular tank? Same goes for the crabs (3 of them), Snails (4) and starfish (2)? I assume the bristleworms that decided to appear in our tank on their own will be fine....

I can't thank you all enough. I have hope. Thanks a million!

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Old 06-19-2004, 01:37 PM   #14
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With the skimmer, I just empty the cup. Thats all. I Clean everything on it every 3 months. Yes, it does take a little time to get it to start "producing" again. Mine usually takes about 5-7 days after I clean entirely.

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Old 06-19-2004, 03:20 PM   #15
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IMO (others will probably disagree) you don't need to add any more sand.

Your main concern at the moment is the very large bioload you have in your aquarium. Would you be able to take some of your fish back to the LFS? I'm not sure even the most experienced aquarist could maintain so many fish in such a small tank. I'd say you have twice, if not thrice, the sustainable numbers.

For now though, work on getting that water chemistry right.

EDIT: I almost forgot, at this point I highly suggest you buy a good book so you can get the basics down. It's really not a difficult hobby once you do that. There are some suggested texts here.
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Old 06-19-2004, 07:43 PM   #16
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I will agree with atari and say no more sand is needed provided you start to add more Live Rock. My only other concern is the "sponge portions" your hubby cleams from time to time. What sponge things are we talking about. Like a prefilter on the pump or a sponge type filter. You will find if not cleaned VERY often, sponge filters become nitrate factories. Depending on what they are it may be beneficial to remove them.

-Waterchange, waterchange, waterchange, then regular schedule
-find out what the sponges are and remove them if necissary
-begin adding more liverock (good cured liverock)
-consider reducing your bio-load
-test water quality often, usually before and after a waterchange.

Your on your way!

I hope we have helped and keep us posted.


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level, ph level

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