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Old 04-07-2009, 09:31 PM   #1
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Daddy's Rescue

Hello everyone. I'm trying to help my son with his reef tank but the net has provided me information overload. I'm hoping someone here can just give me straight answers so I can follow that step by step.

Here's the situation:

His 75 gallon tank was built in haste. He bought the tank, a canister type of filter with media inside, a power head, turbo skimmer, then he loaded it with sand (looks like dead corals to me), live rocks, and then he bought the fish. I believe he bought the same water where the fish actually came from - some breeder's / exporter's shop - so he didn't have to do that cycling thing. When he asked me how it looked, I said it looks too plain and needed more landscaping. The next day he bought about 40lbs. of live rocks and corals, stuffed them all in there and showed off again.

His morning reading of ammonia read .25 and after he installed everything else he purchased, the ammonia level went over the chart. He was already crying so I did what I could - nothing!

I changed less than 25% of the tank water with the remaining water he had previously purchased and seeing that all its inhabitants would surely die, I decided to top it off with tap water - just so the tank won't stain. I dropped in a whole bottle of "cycle" which is supposedly used to jumpstart new tanks and tried to comfort him.

Here's the question:

How do we start over? Some fish are still alive and some corals to, although they seem to be in trouble and beyond help. Should I get rid of all the water and start over? How? Thanks and hoping for your step by step. The net is a sure source of information overload so I hope this forum can narrow things down.

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Old 04-07-2009, 09:37 PM   #2
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See if your LFS will hold your fish and corals for you for a few weeks. You probably needed to cycle. What do you mean fish stores water? You could always get a Pur water filter if your waters good enough. If not you might need RO(Whole notha discussion).Read this You could probably just let the live rock and dead rock sit in the tank with a source of ammonia for a few weeks. The cycle should finish. Also with the canister, Dis the media or most of it and add Rock rubble. It helps keep the tank clearer. What type of light do you have? You might not be able to keep corals. If the substrate is Crushed coral, Try to replace it or add a few inches or Aragonite sand. How olds your son?

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Old 04-08-2009, 06:54 AM   #3
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Thanks AMD. My son is 17 and instead of going through the whole process of cycling, he thought it would be the same if he bought salt water from the fish shop. The shop uses one large filtration system for multiple tanks and this is the same water he bought.

Things seemed fine until he added the live rocks from another shop. That's when the ammonia shot up and fish started flipping over.

I already asked if they could hold the fish and corals but no one is willing to do that here. I'm taking this as a sacrificial exercise to just let the cycle continue with the fish and corals inside. Survival of the fittest kind of thing but I know, that's lame. I just don't have any other options right now.

The canister has a foam filter, carbon compound, bio balls, ceramic stuff and another layer of foam. What do you mean "rock rubble"? I also called earlier for some aragonite sand and it seems it's unheard of here in the Philippines.

Would it be possible for me to do a partial water change at this point? The fish actually seem okay for now but the corals are definitely dying. Salinity is too low. I was able to purchase salt mix and I only have tap water conditioner. I'd still like to save what is left. What do you think can I do now? Thanks in advance.
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Old 04-08-2009, 09:50 AM   #4
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Ok, at least you are trying to do the right things, so props for you!
A few basics:
1. Water does not host much (if any) of the nitrifying bacteria (the beneficial bacteria that converts ammonia to nitrItes to nitrAtes). This bacteria lives in the substrate, rocks, filter media and other places).
2. You may want to consider getting rid of the CC substrate, it is difficult to keep clean, gets all kinds of gunk in it and can limit your clean up crew.
3. PWCs are your best friend at this point, to at least keep the ammonia down.
4. Your corals may be toast and generally need a more mature tank. The first 3-6 months, your tank will go through many changes until it "settles" down.
5. PWCs are your friend right now...or did I already say that? LOL!.
Just keep up the work and see if you can at least take the corals back, if not, you may want to find another store that will.
6. We are here to give FREE advice, your LFS is in it to make money (as you can see, they pulled one over on you).
Just keep us updated and we will do our best to get you up and running.
Remember, we all probably had the same questions you will be asking in the near future, so ask away!
Age is relative, you are only as old as you act....of course, this works in reverse....

Questions loved, heeded advice greatly appreciated!

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Good reading about:
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Old 04-08-2009, 08:39 PM   #5
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Was the rock that caused the ammonia spike cycled?
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Old 04-09-2009, 09:09 AM   #6
Thanx but no.....

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You might consider contacting your local Fish Club/Reef club etc to see if anyone can help with either housing, buying or at this point just taking your livestock.

Not sure where you are from but here is a list of some:
Reef Central Online Community - Reef Club Forums
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Old 04-09-2009, 09:31 AM   #7
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Personally...although I'm a newbie "I" preferr old school i.g. Not putting so many quickfix concoctions in the tank...start out w/freshly made saltwater...alittle media and let nature take its own course-(cycling).After about 3 weeks get a coupla test kits and start monitoring reading every 7 days.
I'm curious as to your lighting system(S) and if they're adequet to sustain coral life.(??)
Also it may prove adventageous if you have a smaller tank available to move everystuff to the smaller tank(to keep everybody alive inna better controlled situation)..while basically going back to ground zero/day 1 w/the larger tank and get the cycling process stabilized...then gradually intro everybody back into the display.
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Old 04-09-2009, 11:24 AM   #8
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Hi everyone. Thanks for all the inputs. I've already lost several fish and ALL corals so we're definitely letting the tank cycle properly now. At least my son has given up on it (for now) so it's completely mine. I just distracted him with a mountain bike so all is well in that aspect.

At this point, I don't think anything will survive that ammonia level so I'll just let it cycle.

I still have a few questions:

1. On getting rid of the crushed corals as substrate - How do I do this without disrupting the cycling? Should I empty the tank or change the substrate while submerged?

2. I can probably find aragonite sand somewhere but in case I don't, what are my other options?

3. What will control the algae later on? Right now the live rocks are starting to develop a pinkish color while some other rocks are turning green.

Other facts you might need to know:

- The tank had 4 yellow tail damsels, 2 blue damsels, 2 porcupine fish, 1 puffer, 1 angler, 1 lion fish, 4 percula clowns (nemo), 1 nudibranch, 1 Emperor Angelfish, 4 angel fish, 2 butterfly fish, 2 soft corals, 7 other corals, and 4 tubeworms. All that in a 75 gallon tank.

Canister type filters:
1. Eheim Classic 2213 - 439 Liters per hour
2. Tetra EX Power 120 - 1,240 Liters per hour

The 2 canisters are filtering a 75 gallon tank. What is the recommendation here? I read somewhere that the filters should ideally "cycle" the tank 10x its size per hour. Is this accurate?

Oh yeah, the tank has a turbo skimmer powered by a 2200 li/hr power head.

Lighting system is with 2 bulbs. 1 is 20,000 kelvin @ 30 watts and the other is actinic but I don't know the rating. Regular room temp is 31-32 Celcius but my living room is airconditioned. Yeah okay, i'll get a thermometer next.
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Old 04-09-2009, 12:37 PM   #9
Thanx but no.....

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Way too many fish... Frankly you were probably going to lose alot of them over time regardless of the tank being cycled or not.
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Old 04-09-2009, 12:51 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Nikonographer View Post
1. On getting rid of the crushed corals as substrate - How do I do this without disrupting the cycling? Should I empty the tank or change the substrate while submerged?
Ok I`ll answer this question. What you would need to do is siphon the CC out with a siphon hose. I would do it in quarters if it was me but there are other ways to do it. As I said siphon out a 1/4 area and then get some sand and rinse it out real good. Then run it down some PVC pipe to the bare area you just siphoned off of. This PVC pipe way will make sure it goes where it needs to go and minimize a sandstorm. Wait a week and do another area of the CC and repeat the same process. HTH



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