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Old 03-21-2009, 03:10 AM   #1
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Help!

Just started a 30g SW tank. No experience with SW other than my own research.

I have about 40lbs live sand, and about 30lb live rock (need more I am sure). I have had this running for about 3 weeks, monitoring the nitrate/nitrite/pH/alk just about everyday. I have yet to see a single spike in anything, all readings are perfect. Hydrometer readings are good, temperature has been right at 78 degrees the entire time.

A week ago I added a raw shrimp. Still no changes. I am sure this is a bit early to judge, but I feel like I am missing something important.

Tank details:

30g. Standard over the side filter. Standard heater. 30g biocube protein skimmer. Marineland 900 powerjet. All readings are perfect.

Only odd thing is a slight rusty color has appeared on top of the sand. I am very tempted to go get a little starter fish to see if that gets this thing moving, but I want to see if anyone has any other advice. I don't mind waiting this out if that is the right thing to do...
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Old 03-21-2009, 02:41 PM   #2
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I don't mind waiting this out if that is the right thing to do...
Waiting it out will be a good thing. Please dont add a starter fish. Very inhumane. What brand test strips are you using? Take some water to your LFS and get him to test it for you as a double check. the rust colored stuff is diatoms. Very usual for starting up a new tank. You cycle will take about 4-6 weeks so be patient. Read this to help you understand.

http://www.aquariumadvice.com/articl...ank/Page1.html
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Old 03-31-2009, 02:46 AM   #3
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Thanks for the input

I've been waiting. No fish yet. I've only seen a *slight* spike in nitrate (~20ppm). It has gone back to <1ppm. I'm using the brand "Jungle" kit. It measures nitrate/nitrite/alkalinity/pH. I'm worried that I did not see a large enough spike. I think I should pick up a different kit. I don't have a LFS in my area (I'm about 45+ miles from the nearest reputable shop).

The raw shrimp I added are gone now. The entire top level of sand is covered in the diatom (thanks for the info on that). Can I expect that to go away on it's own or should I mix the sand to get rid of it? It's also all over my pumps and everything else in the tank. I'm hesitant to scrape it off at this point.
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Old 03-31-2009, 03:21 AM   #4
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No no... don't scrape it. Just wait until your cycling is done... then you just need to get a clean up crew (CUC) such as snails and hermit crabs and they will clean up all your diatoms...
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Old 03-31-2009, 10:53 AM   #5
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If you used LR, then you probably wouldn't see as big a spike...have you been testing everyday? The spike can happen and change in an instant...especially with LR. It sounds like your cycle is getting close, so just be patient...when your ammonia and nitrite are 0 then you can do a big water change and get your cleanup crew. The main thing to remember in salt water is that nothing good happens fast. You are going in the right direction !!!
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Old 03-31-2009, 11:45 AM   #6
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If you used LR, then you probably wouldn't see as big a spike...have you been testing everyday? The spike can happen and change in an instant...especially with LR....
If you talking about "cured" live rock, then yes... I agree with you. But if you're using anything but "cured" live rock, just be aware that this isn't the case.

I'd recommend getting some liquid test kits - the API brand is cheap, readily available, and just fine for testing during a cycle. Those strips can be really hit and miss. The fact that your nitrates went from 20 to <1 should give you a hint that something is definitely wrong with them. That type of change in nitrates just isn't going to happen.

Just a guess, but I'm going to guess that you're nearing the end of your cycle if you're seeing diatoms. (That's the brown dusty stuff covering your sand.) But without good test kits, it's just a guess.
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Old 04-02-2009, 02:05 AM   #7
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I truly appreciate all of your responses. I tested the water again this morning, and both nitrates and nitrite levels were perfect so I started my cleanup crew (3 snails, 1 hermit crab and one blue crab). It has been 8-9 hours now and they are all doing well. If I would have been notified of your post (Kurt) I would have picked up some liquid tests before doing this, but unfortunately I didn't check here first.

I'm going to give it a few weeks before getting anything else. The diatoms are everywhere now. All over my pumps/lines, sand, rock, it's really amazing. I'm sure you have all seen this before, but I'm pretty amazed. The diatoms have little bubble pods on the sand (looks like air bubbles surrounded in rust, maybe 0.5mm wide). When the crab moves against them they float to the surface.

I'll pick up some new test kits tomorrow. I can't even admit where I picked my current set up (although I'm sure it's easy to spot). I'm just pretty far from the closest LFS.
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