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Old 11-25-2004, 06:03 PM   #1
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Advice Welcome: I've Decided to Take the Saltwater Plunge

Dear AA members,

As you may know from my frequent postings, after a 20 some year absence from the hobby, my son's third birthday was the perfect opportunity to buy that aquarium that he didn't even know he wanted.


I bought him (myself) one of those ready to go 20 gallons kits complete with hood, heater, AC150 filter, plastic plants and an instructional video.

Things went well for about 6 weeks with an assortment of cichlids from the mixed tank at the lfs until disaster struck.

After a major water change I ended up killing all the fish. It seems that they have been lacing the Toronto water supply with high quantities of chloramines and the dechlorinator I add only ended up separating the chlorine from the ammonia--at least that's what I now think happened.

At the time I was concerned that a cleaning bucket had become mixed up with fish bucket and I had Mr. Cleaned them. So I did what any father would do who had recently caught the fish bug. I went out and bought my son an even bigger aquarium and let the 20 languish in the garage.

But then I thought, what a waste of space. Sure I could use it as a QT tank (which in retrospect probably would not have been a bad idea) or I could use what bits and bobs were left over from the original set up and see about setting up a quasi nano-reef fowlr aquarium at the office, which brings us in a very roundabout way to the subject of this post.

I have the 20 gallon set up and heated. Circulation comes from the aforementioned AC150 (with two foam inserts and a packet of that purigen stuff). To the mix I added 20 kilograms (maybe 15 after rinsing) of playsand about 10 pounds of base rock and 6 lbs or not particularly lively looking look rock bought locally.

Concerned that there might not be enough circulation with the live rock, I added a small powerhead aimed directly at the live rock. (If I can work out shipping and customs with www.liverocks.com for the small order I wish to place, that is where I am going to go. Thanks Zack.) Salinity is spot on. PH is a bit low. And ammonia is rather high owing to my floating a few labs that didn't make it in the big aquarium.

What do I do now: sit pretty and wait until the ammonia comes down. "Invest" in either a proper canister filter or upgrade the HOB to an Emperor? Add a skimmer? More powerheads? Was deadfish cycling before adding the small amount of live and bass rock a mistake? Shoud I remove the media from the AC150. And if it is just a waiting game for the cycle to cycle, how long ought I expect to wait. (The 55 fw took nearly 5 weeks with it being moderately stocked at the time.) I know my lighting is insufficient for corals at the moment, but I thought I could let that wait.

My stocking plans at the moment are up in the air. I thought I would just select one or two nice show fish and leave it at that.

And how are the fishies doing in the 55? Haven't lost one in two months. As my son would say, their great.

All the best, my friends and any advice extra welcome,


Bored in Toronto, Jeff
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Old 11-25-2004, 11:07 PM   #2
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Add a skimmer. Cycling with LR is a good way to go, dead shrimp is another one, but dead fish seems to work too . But make sure you do a water change or two at the end of the cycle. Was the LR cured?

With your water, maybe invest in a RO/DI unit (check eBay, I think AquaSafeSystems still ships from Canada unless they moved) . If you get enough LR, you can use the HOB for simply circulation or running carbon. People don't recommend the Bio-wheel filters due to nitrate buildup.
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Old 11-26-2004, 12:54 AM   #3
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I would add about 20lbs of rock. This will give you the biological capacity you need and you can pull the media from the HOB filter. I would add another powerhead...probably a Maxi Jet 600. I would invest in an Aqua C Remora skimmer with the Maxi Jet 1200 pump...stay away from the Rio...they don't hold up well. I would also look into getting some good lights if you want decent growth on the LR. A fixture with one 65w 50/50 PC bulb should be sufficient for a 20g tank although you could have a two bulb setup if you wished. I would stick with no more than two small/med sized fish. I have a 20g tall tank that houses one tomato clown and one cardinal...I wouldn't add any more fish to it. The RO/DI filter is a great idea although, for a tank this size, you could buy water...either RO or distilled is OK. JMHO.
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Old 11-26-2004, 05:20 PM   #4
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I am confused a bit.... you are seting up a 20 gallon FOWLR?

ok...if so, I would add about 20 lbs of liverocks.com rocks. and invest in a very good skimmer (cpr bak pak 2R, or Aqua C remora.) and I would either get a very large HOB emporer filter (remove the biowheel) or a nice canister filter. ( I have a magnum 350 pro which I love.) when you run the canister filter, just use carbon, and remember to replace it monthly. My setup has been very steady for months with very little effort.

as far as fish go. RESEARCH! Most fish get WAY to big for a tank your size, so be very sure that you choose the proper fish. I have two tank-raised Ocellaris clowns right now and they are both hearty and lively! and your son will love watching Nemo and Marlin swim around all day!!!
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Software:2 Tank-Raised Ocellaris Clowns, 1 Purple Firefish, 1 Electric Orange hermit crab, 18 Blue Legged hermit crabs, 8 or so Nassarius snails, Xenia, Blue, green, and Green Striped Mushrooms.

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Old 11-29-2004, 12:34 PM   #5
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Hi Guys,

Sorry for taking so long to get back to you. All your help has been heeded, but somehow after typing up a very long reply yesterday I ended up clicking it into oblivion.

Yes. The tank has no inhabitants at the moment other than a few measly worms which must be emanating from the not too, too live rock. Ammonia is down significantly from what it was on Thursday but not so significantly that I would feel confident adding any thing live and bigger than my pinkie to the tank.

I assume the live rock that I purchased was cured (I certainly paid cured prices) but as I had already spiked the tank with ammonia, it's hard to tell now. What I am hoping for now is that the live rock will start seeing the base rock and even the sand.

I will look out for one of the approved skimmers, although there isn't too much space left on the back of the tank as is. The lights are bog-standard flourescents. The aquarium is a work in progress that I plan to take my time with so as to get it right.

All the best. Jeff
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Old 11-29-2004, 01:18 PM   #6
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wait a couple of weeks after everything seems to level out before you add anything just to be safe. And when you add, add slowly. Patience is the key to success.
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Hardware: 37 gallon SW tank and stand by Oceanic Systems, Magnum 350 Pro Canister Filter (half carbon), CPR Bak Pak 2R skimmer, Maxijet 1200 Powerhead, RenaCal 150 W heater, Compact fluorescent lights with moonlights. 40 lbs of liverock, 3" sand bed.

Software:2 Tank-Raised Ocellaris Clowns, 1 Purple Firefish, 1 Electric Orange hermit crab, 18 Blue Legged hermit crabs, 8 or so Nassarius snails, Xenia, Blue, green, and Green Striped Mushrooms.

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