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Old 06-21-2005, 04:24 PM   #1
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Has my tank already cycled?

We set up our new 55 gal SW about 2 weeks ago. We let it go for a week and tested. We get our filtered seawater from our local aquarium (25 gallons for the intial setup.....couldn't fit more buckets in our car.....and then 30 gal of tap water with instant ocean...proper chems added for conditioning). We also were using the biowheels and sponge from our freshwater tank that we had in there earlier that day (switched them to a smaller tank since we were seriously underloaded). We figure that the saltwater would kill any bacteria that was on the biowheel and sponge, but figured we'd try it anyway.

It appeared as if our tank wasn't cycling so we got some Zyme #9 to help it start. The guy at the LFS said to add fish the next day. Well we actually added them two days later as we couldn't get there the next day. So anyhoo....we put in three green chromis and one yellow tailed blue damsel. One of our chromis died, but not because of water quality issues. It was injured when caught (abrasion on side) and we should've taken it right back, but we thought we'd wait it out and pray that he got better. We've checked our water levels almost daily and still no amonia, no nitrates, and no nitrites. The ph is 7.9, temp holding at 79.5 and salinity at 1.020.

We just don't get it.....nothing seems to be cycling. By the way, we have a penguin 350 with bio wheels. We have added sponges in the back for extra bio. We have an undergravel filter powered by two powerheads on each end and the two middle towers from the UGF are just normal with the airline going through them. We are waiting for our Odysea light system (just reg lights now) and our protein skimmer. We are also in the process of making our own sump. We also hve about 25lbs of dry base rock that looks like it is already growing coralline algae (it has bright blue, navy blue, pink and golden yellow growing on it). We use crushed coral for substrate. I think that about covers it all.....I would appreciate any opinions you could pass along.

Thanks in advance,
Katrina
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Old 06-21-2005, 05:11 PM   #2
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tap water with instant ocean...proper chems added for conditioning
bad idea. Tap water has all kinds of nasty stuff you dont want in your tank.

The guy at the LFS said to add fish the next day. Well we actually added them two days later as we couldn't get there the next day
bad idea. Never listen to LFS people, they are just trying to make money.

salinity at 1.020.
bad idea. raise it to 1.023 at least.


By the way, we have a penguin 350 with bio wheels. We have added sponges in the back for extra bio
bad idea. Only thing you can really use that for is running carbon. Take all the bio wheels/sponges out.

We have an undergravel filter powered by two powerheads on each end and the two middle towers from the UGF are just normal with the airline going through them
bad idea. Get rid of this while its still early!

We use crushed coral for substrate
bad idea. Get a sand bed in there.

"We are waiting for our... protein skimmer. We are also in the process of making our own sump"
GOOD IDEA!!! Skimmers are great filters and sumps have an endless amount of uses.

Here's another good idea for you. Buy "The contientous marine aquarist" and read up on what is required to keep a saltwater tank. Remember, this isnt freshwater and undergravel filters and bio wheels aint gonna cut it. Good luck!
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Old 06-21-2005, 06:13 PM   #3
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Ceratinly not trying to be rude, as I am not an expert in any way but......

(quoted from Gregory Skomal, a marine biologist with the Massachussettes Division of Marine Fisheries, from one of my saltwater aquarium books) " Under standard aquarium temps (75-79), the conversion results in the addition of 0.002 to the hydrometer reading. For example, if your hydrometer reading is 1.023 and your water temp is 77, the actual specific gravitiy of your aquarium is 1.025. (that would place mine at 1.022).

Specific gravity should be established in the range of 1.021 and 1.024, but more importantly, it should be maintained at ta specific level within this range. Even minor fluctuations can cause problems for your tank inhabitants."

According to this my levels are just fine. THis is a FO tank as I live in Hawaii and it is illegal to sell/trade any and all coral and live rock. I do not have live rock, I have dry base rock that I believe is showing signs of becoming live rock.....this is not illegal.

Also according to this book (not saying it's the Holy Grail of SW books or anything....but just that a marine biologist who is also a hobbyist probably knows what he's talking about), " the undegravel filter has evolved and improvements in this technology make it an excellent choice, particularly for a fish-only aquarium. External power filteres are ideal for fish-only tanks that also have an undergravel filter", (he then goes on to talk about the benefits from using a biowheel which is part of the penguin system and meant to be used by it). I use crushed coral as a sand bed can clog an UGF unless you use sheets of some sort of mesh that keep the sand above the cc line. I was unable to find this locally and just opted then for the UGF as it also helps add oxygen to the system.

Again, I'm not trying to be rude, just simply show why I chose those options on my tank. I agree that a sump is a much better choice and exactly why I am in the process of making one, the power filter came with my tank set up, so it's being utilized until improvements are made. I have no invertabrates in the tank (although we may get some at some time and will raise salinity slowly prior to that point).

Does anyone know why our test readings never showed cycling? Could this be due to the seawater and the bio media that had been previously set up?
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Old 06-21-2005, 08:30 PM   #4
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Hello and welcome to the forum.
Quote:
the undegravel filter has evolved and improvements in this technology make it an excellent choice, particularly for a fish-only aquarium.
Undergravel filters are pretty much obsolete in SW aquariums theses days. They eventually become nutrient traps and can raise nitrate levels way above desirable levels. Not as important is a FO system, but since you are in the early stages, you may want to reconsider. Is this an older book?
Quote:
....we put in three green chromis and one yellow tailed blue damsel.
It will take these 3 little fish a very long time to cycle a 55 gallon tank. Besides, there are easier more humane ways of doing it.
The cocktail shrimp method is described here.
http://www.aquariumadvice.com/showqu...q=2&fldAuto=15
It would do a much faster job at cycling your system. With all due respect, I would return the fish, cycle the tank in this manner and then begin stock (with qt) your system. Please shoot as many questions as you can at us, we love to help.
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Old 06-21-2005, 09:38 PM   #5
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Nope not an old book, brand new infact. It's "Saltwater Aquariums for Dummies" (didn't post the name earlier figuring that everyone would push it off as a "fluff" book, but it covers all the basics and has some really cool tips even for the experts. I also have a new book from Dk that covers marine fish.

I'm sure that an undergravel filter isn't the best filter, we just can't afford the best (and because of this, it's not the only one I'm using). We mostly got it to help with the bottom, so we added two powerheads to blow the stuff out from the bottom upwards for the power filter to take care of it. So it shouldn't trap anything since it blows it upwards through the gravel.

While we can gather sand legally here (albiet 1 lb a day per person...ugh), i've heard so much that sand on the bottom of tank is a pain in the fanny to sweep. We also couldn't find any play sand. All they have here in town is this sand for playgrounds but it's blue and purple! I'm not sure if it would be safe and not exactly the natural look ya know? I'm not against the sand, just not sure it's feasable while we're here (we're only stationed here for another year, so we want an easy and cheaper set up for now as we know the fish will have to be sold before we move).

We didn't plan on using fish to start the cycling. We were told to use the bateria culture stuff from Zyme #9 (we wanted to use bio spira but it was illegal to bring into Hawaii). We tested the water over and over and it always showed nothing in all three parameters (eventhough this bottle was suppose to start the cycle for our size tank....darn thing cost $20 too!), so we figured nothing would make it go but fish. Still nothing is happening. Do you think the tank is too clean (meaning that there isn't enough waste to start the cycle....or could it be already cycled from the bacteria and the seawater?) We even feed our fish freshly hatched brine shrimp and nothing is making this tanks parameters move! What are we doing wrong?
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Old 06-21-2005, 10:15 PM   #6
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Quote:
Do you think the tank is too clean (meaning that there isn't enough waste to start the cycle
Bingo, too much tank for 3 little fish to cycle, at least quickly. Did you check out the shrimp method? Works like a charm.
Quote:
We were told to use the bateria culture stuff from Zyme #9 (we wanted to use bio spira but it was illegal to bring into Hawaii).
Doesn't work anyway, I tried it in a small qt tank..waste of money IMO. At least the SW version is.
Seriously for your situation the shrimp method would be the best IMO.
Quote:
we're only stationed here for another year,
Boy, If I could have gotten that kind of duty when I was in the Navy, I may have stayed in.
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Old 06-21-2005, 10:28 PM   #7
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Don't be too sure about that.....we can't wait to leave! Nice place to visit.....whole nother story to be stuck living here! Really expensive and most stuff has to be purchased on the web as selection is verrrrrrry slim. Not to mention my three kids (6,5,and 3) are all scared by the waves.....kinda sucks when you live on an island. Only 377 days left!!!!!!
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