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Old 01-20-2004, 05:14 PM   #1
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Cycling Questions

Hi! I am an aquarium newbie and recently joined because my anonymous information gathering lead me to believe this site was worth joining! I found some good information that may relate to my problem, but wanted to post with my specific details. I belong to some other forums and know some get frustrated when new people post with questions that probably have been covered. So if this has been covered in detail and I missed it in my search, please excuse me and just point me in the right direction.

I started my 45 gal AGA tank at the end of November. My plan now is to just have a FO tank, and possibly move to a FOWLR tank later, knowing there are changes to lighting etc. that I'll need then. I am having trouble with the nitrites going back down and significant brown algae. Right now my ammonia is zero, nitrites around 5.0, and nitrates around 15. Below, I have outlined (as best as I remember) what I have down to this point. My setup looks like this:

45 gal AGA
Regular florescent hood
Fluval 304
Sand substrate
3 Tufta (sp?) rocks

Following my LFS advice, which I know is contrary to many opinions here, I added two damsels (1 blue and 1 blue w/ yellow tail) after the tank had been running for about a week with 1 or 2 doses of Cycle. It took 3-4 weeks, as I recall, to finally see the ammonia reach 2.0. About a week later I saw the nitrites increase to as high as 5.0 and then taper off. The nitrates had also increased over that time. In the last 2 weeks or so, I saw the nitrites fall to around 2.0, but have fluctuated between 2.0 and 5.0 since then. About a week and a half ago my LFS suggested a water change since I hadn't done one yet. At that time I vacuumed the brown algae off the sand and rocks. Now the brown algae is back with a vengeance! Also, during the early nitrite spike, the PH started dropping, so the LFS suggested using baking soda to adjust it, which I did successfully an additional time.

I am trying to be a very patient person, but also worry about the stress the continued high nitrites are having on the fish. So far they seem energetic and hungry. After reading some additional posts earlier, I realize that I should mix their diet more than I am and watch closely the amount of food that I give them. Right now it is mostly Tetra flakes.

Thank you in advance for your help. I look forward to receiving, and someday providing, more information from this forum.

Thank you,

Jeff
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Old 01-20-2004, 05:31 PM   #2
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to AquariumAdvice.com!!

Quote:
I belong to some other forums and know some get frustrated when new people post with questions that probably have been covered. So if this has been covered in detail and I missed it in my search, please excuse me and just point me in the right direction
This is not a problem, even if it's been covered a dozen times, we are here to help

What are you using for media in the fluval? Are you using RO/DI water or tap? If tap, what are you using to dechlorinate? If tap, have you tested it for nitrites? Have you double checked your nitrite readings with a seperate test kit?

Answer those questions and we will go from there. I'll go ahead and tell you where I'm leaning,
1) You may not have enough surface area for the bacteria that break down nitrite, the surface area you do have may be bein monopolized by the bacteria breaking down ammonia.

2) Some water conditioners will give false positives for ammonia and nitrite.

3) You may have a bad test kit, your tank may have been perfectly fine for the last couple of weeks and you just don't know cause the test is bad.
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Old 01-20-2004, 05:35 PM   #3
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IMO, being subjected to the ammonia already and considerable nitrites...any major damage is already done. The problem may be that there is not enough of an ammonia source in the tank to push the tank through. However, i have always noticed that the nitrite portion of the cycle takes much longer....but it has never fluctuated. I would take a sample into the LFS and see if they have the same reading.

As for the tank itself, you can and should add liverock. It requires no additional lighting and it a tremendous biofilter for your tank. I honestly would not keep a tank without it. If the price is a bit too harsh, you can always use a considerable amount of base rock and then seed it with some liverock pieces (www.hirocks.com is a great source).

Algae will also occur at the beginning of the tank until it "matures" for a few months. Just keep being religious on trying to siphon it out. You should notice as your tang ages it will come back less frequently and less intense.
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Old 01-20-2004, 05:54 PM   #4
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Thanks for the quick replies.

reefrunner69,

The Fluval media is just what came with the pump. Is there something else that I should have added?

The water was tap, but I can't remember now what I used to dechlorinate. I will look tonight, if I remember. I had tested the water during the first week and saw no signs of ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate. I don't know if that helps determine anything about the nitrites in the tap water.

No, I haven't checked the readings with another test, but will try to do so in the next day or so. Never thought about checking the test kit.

HoopsGuru,

I will check out the link you provided on the liverock. You are right, I was a little intimidated by the cost when I wasn't sure whether I was going to like this hobby.

Again, thank you both for the information. I'll get back to soon.

Jeff
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45 gal AGA
Sand substrate
304 Fluval
2 Maxijet 900 PHs
60# LR
1 Blue Damsel
1 Yellow Tail Damsel
2 Percula Clown
1 Yellow Tang (Small)
1 Peppermint Shrimp
3 Astrea, 3 Cerith, and Unknown Nassarius (LR hitch hikers Snails
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Old 01-21-2004, 09:17 AM   #5
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reefrunner69,

I checked last night and I have been using AquaClear to dechlorinate the tap water.

HoopsGuru,

If I were to add liverock, how much should I use with and without base rock? Would you explain base rock? I haven't seen that term yet.

Thanks again for the help,

Jeff
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45 gal AGA
Sand substrate
304 Fluval
2 Maxijet 900 PHs
60# LR
1 Blue Damsel
1 Yellow Tail Damsel
2 Percula Clown
1 Yellow Tang (Small)
1 Peppermint Shrimp
3 Astrea, 3 Cerith, and Unknown Nassarius (LR hitch hikers Snails
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Old 01-21-2004, 09:14 PM   #6
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I think your looking at a lack of surface area. Make sure the filter has a biomedia in it, usually ceramic rings or something like that. You will also benefit from the use of base and/or LR, either will give you more surface are and if it's cured LR it will jumpstart your biological filter.
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Old 01-22-2004, 09:46 AM   #7
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reefrunner69,

Thanks for the input. The filter does have ceramic media in it. After the inputs from you and HoopsGuru I have started looking at places to get base and LR. I have found some recommendations from searching the forums here. I have seen suggestions of 2lbs/gal. Is that accurate? How much should be LR vs. base? Several people recommended liverocks.com, which seems to have reasonable pricing. HoopsGuru recommended hirocks.com for base rock. Do you have any recommendations and can you point me to some references to what specific kind of base and/or LR to get. Or is it a matter of aesthetic preference?

BTW, I saw some reference to the amount of time the light is on and have tried to keep it around 8 hours the past couple of days. I don't know if it is the contributing factor, but some of the brown "carpet" on the sand seems to be fading.


Thanks again for the help,

Jeff
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45 gal AGA
Sand substrate
304 Fluval
2 Maxijet 900 PHs
60# LR
1 Blue Damsel
1 Yellow Tail Damsel
2 Percula Clown
1 Yellow Tang (Small)
1 Peppermint Shrimp
3 Astrea, 3 Cerith, and Unknown Nassarius (LR hitch hikers Snails
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Old 01-22-2004, 07:28 PM   #8
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I think anywhere from 1.5 to 2 lbs per gallon is fine, start on the low side and them move up, it' easy to buy more, hard to take it back if it's too much.

as for a % I would probably go 50-75% base rock and 25-50% live rock.

both hirocks.com and liverocks.com have good reputations.
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Old 01-23-2004, 09:46 AM   #9
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reefrunner69,

I'm grateful for all the help. I plan to get some soon.

Thanks again,

Jeff
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45 gal AGA
Sand substrate
304 Fluval
2 Maxijet 900 PHs
60# LR
1 Blue Damsel
1 Yellow Tail Damsel
2 Percula Clown
1 Yellow Tang (Small)
1 Peppermint Shrimp
3 Astrea, 3 Cerith, and Unknown Nassarius (LR hitch hikers Snails
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Old 01-28-2004, 05:51 PM   #10
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I just wanted to update you on my progress. I cleaned the brown algae from the bottom this weekend and did a 10-15% water change. The nitrite level was down to 0.5 a coupe days ago and this morning was 0! I still plan to get some LR in there and will wait a few more days to verify the stability before getting some of the clean up crew.

I'm looking forward to finding great advice here regarding the mix of creatures for the clean up crew, and eventually fish.

Thanks again for the help,

Jeff
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Jeff
45 gal AGA
Sand substrate
304 Fluval
2 Maxijet 900 PHs
60# LR
1 Blue Damsel
1 Yellow Tail Damsel
2 Percula Clown
1 Yellow Tang (Small)
1 Peppermint Shrimp
3 Astrea, 3 Cerith, and Unknown Nassarius (LR hitch hikers Snails
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