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Old 05-14-2015, 09:44 PM   #1
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72 gallon tank 1 week old - cycle question

Hi all,

Kind of new at the saltwater hobby. Had a tank 15 years ago but I know things have changed since that.

I just set up a 72 gallon tank, bought a ro/di unit and filled it (1.024)
I put 80 pounds of live sand in and some bottled bacteria as well.
After 3 days, checked ph and all is well. Listening to testimonials from others about adding fish immediately, I put two small clowns in (1.5")

As of today (day two for the fish) all seems well, they are eating and seem very happy.
I want to put live rock in but should I wait till I see nitrates?
I checked nitrates today ( as well as ammonia ) they are all at 0.
Are they at 0 because of the live sand and bottled bacteria or have they not produced enough ammonia yet to start a cycle?
If I buy live rock from the LFS, can it be put right in?
I hear a lot about isn't "curing" I would thing this is already accomplished due to it coming from a tank at the store?.

Little confused, any help is appreciated.
Thank You.


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Old 05-15-2015, 01:16 PM   #2
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Hi. Welcome to the Salty Side.

It seems you have gotten yourself in a bit of a pickle here and I'll tell you why. When setting up a saltwater tank the live rock should go in first once the saltwater is in at the right salinity and temperature and along with a power head to keep the beneficial bacteria alive on the rock as that is your main filtration for your tank. Then you would usually add the sand in around the live rock. That's when you start testing for ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. If you are getting signs of Nitrates but no ammonia or Nitrite then thats a sign that your tank is ready for live stock. Best way to confirm is by adding a dead shrimp to the tank for a day, then take the shrimp out and test the levels, the beneficial bacteria should break this ammonia down into Nitrite level and then down into safer levels for livestock called Nitrates.

You are right about the live rock you should buy them from a system which has cured live rock. As a beginner I would recommend purchasing them from a hobbyist who is closing their tank down, as you can see how long it has been setup and if the tank looks healthy. Usually they are sold half the price than your local aquarium shop. You should be looking for around 1 kilo of live rock per every 20 liters of your tank. 72 US Gallons is around 270 liters so around 15 kilos of live rock I would say is a good amount to keep up with your tank volume. In the past it were said to be 1 kilo per 10 liters but 20 liters seems to work for everyone to.

As of right now I would suggest that you either return the fish back to the store or keep it in a friends saltwater tank if they can hold it in their sump or something. If you add the live rock while you have fish in there, any die off from the live rock will mean there will definitely be ammonia present in your tank which is poisonous to your fish and any other livestock depending on how much die off there may be. It will cause a cycle meaning there's a chance your fish may not survive through this.

So keep it running but return the fish, then add the live rock in. After all levels look good you should be looking into a clean up crew like hermit crabs and snails before you add any fish. They will help to clear off any growth of algae and it will be their main source of food. Of course water quality also helps keep the tank clean by doing water changes.

If you haven't got one you should look into a suitable protein skimmer as it will mean less maintenance on your side. Without a protein skimmer 15% water change per week is recommended.

What equipment do you have at the moment?

If you have any other questions, let us know. We are happy to help.

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Old 05-15-2015, 08:36 PM   #3
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Thanks so much for your reply. What are your thoughts on keeping the two clowns in there, buying dry rock and curing the rock in a 20 gallon container for 8 weeks, then adding to tank?

I checked ammonia today, still 0 but no nitrates either. Tells me that maybe the cycle still didn't start yet. Are the two clowns making enough ammonia to start the cycle.
Again, I put 80 lbs live sand and bottled bacterial 5 days ago.

Thanks so much for your time and expertise.

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Old 05-15-2015, 08:49 PM   #4
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Cascade 100 canister filter with floss only, will add foam pad and ceramic bio pellets tomorrow.
Air stone
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Old 05-15-2015, 09:00 PM   #5
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Regardless of water parameters(you'll never hear me say this again)
you really need to "create" a more natural environment for your clowns(and read up on nitrogen cycle).
Maybe watch "Finding Nemo" again?.
Stripes hit you 100% IMO.(read it 3 times if necessary {I think thoughts on "keeping clowns" was covered}).
Sorry to sound harsh but most freshwater keepers wouldn't be thrilled with sponge bob?
Definatley won't fly in salt water long run.
Please offer you clowns some kind of "shelter"(and pray) or return and read up a little more so you (and your fish) can have a good experience.
Lose the air stone asap(no good comes from it in marine tanks!).
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Old 05-15-2015, 10:05 PM   #6
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Saltwater is much different than fresh in some ways. These have been touched on in terms of the rock and the airstone. With that said, I'll explain why.
Airstones end up causing issues in saltwater. The bubbles hit the top of the water and 'pop'. This then sends salt around which then builds up over time. We call this salt creep. Salt creep can cause issues with lowering salinity or if the salt build up falls back into the water can then be an issue regarding burning what it touches, to include the gills of fish.
When it comes to the porous rock we use in tanks, be it live, macro, base...the list goes on. You want to aim for 1 lbs per gallon as it is your main filtration in the system. The bacteria builds up all over and through the rock that converts the ammonia and nitrites into not so poisonous nitrates, which is then removed by weekly water changes or absorbed by algae in refugiums or algae turf scrubbers.
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Old 05-17-2015, 08:50 PM   #7
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Thanks for all the help all.

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2 gallon, 72 gallon, cycle, gallon, question, tan, tank

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