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Old 04-13-2010, 11:59 AM   #81
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Originally Posted by BonnieC View Post
... I guess Im still trying to find exact causes so it doesnt happen again in the future. I totally get the bioload thing, but I havent had any issues with ammonia at all ...
I think it's safe to say that with your initial "welcome to the hobby" experience, it won't happen again - assuming you stock your new tank at reasonable stocking levels. I think you've learned too much to let it happen again!

Bioload isn't just an ammonia thing. That's the obvious sign, but there's also the aspect that you can't put any exact numbers to and that's overcrowding. Overcrowding a tank is going to stress fish out. They all need their little places to call home, relax, and chill. If they're constantly being harassed, constantly running for their lives, and can never establish a "routine", then stress is going to start causing health issues. If the stress level in the tank is so high, they might not be able to eat. If left to its own, a tank will "naturally" even out the bioload... which I think yours did. Three fish is still too many for a long-term situation in my book, but its sure better than eight, and I think with fewer inhabitants (especially the damsel), your tank will finally be able to have some peace.

I know you only had a hydrometer so you really don't know what the salinity was when that water change happened. Even so, whatever the salinity was, you added 1 gallon of freshwater to 9 gallons of saltwater. Math is math, and that is a huge shift in salinity in a matter of seconds, regardless of the initial salinity levels. I'm guessing the pH took a huge shift for a while also, until it balanced out again. Just saying that even though the salinity levels themselves weren't known *for sure*, the change in those levels were.

While it really stinks what happened to you and these fish, I really can't imagine you're going to make the same mistake again. I bet a year down the road, you're going to have one killer reef tank - especially if you go with one of those NeoNanos!
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Old 04-13-2010, 12:57 PM   #82
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Oooh thanks! I think some things are starting to "click".



Quote:
Bioload isn't just an ammonia thing. That's the obvious sign, but there's also the aspect that you can't put any exact numbers to and that's overcrowding.
Oh, gotchya! I guess that makes sense. Especially because now that all the fish are gone, the 2 firefish are coming out more and I rarely got to see them before.

Quote:
Three fish is still too many for a long-term situation in my book, but its sure better than eight
Think I should get rid of more? I am debating the firefish. Especially since I am getting a shallow rimless tank. They are pretty cool fish though. The other fish in there is a gold striped cleaner goby.

For future reference, do corals not count as bioload? Ive seen a lot of tanks with not many fish but tons of corals! What about inverts?

Quote:
Even so, whatever the salinity was, you added 1 gallon of freshwater to 9 gallons of saltwater.
I actually forgot all about that! Im now keeping a log of everything I do.

Quote:
While it really stinks what happened to you and these fish, I really can't imagine you're going to make the same mistake again. I bet a year down the road, you're going to have one killer reef tank - especially if you go with one of those NeoNanos!
Yeah, no doubt! This has been a very rough (and expensive) lesson learned. I think I know most of what I plan to get now and of course everything Ive picked is SO pricey! But I think it will make for a very sweet tank.



Im still debating on whether or not to call Zamzows headquarters about it. It just seems cruel for them to keep doing that (he was cycling another tank the last time I went in). It was a lot of unneccesary deaths.
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Old 04-13-2010, 06:42 PM   #83
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Okay all, another update...I just want to make sure you all agree with the advice I was given.

Went back to the LFS (not the one I bought the tank from, but the other). We tested our kits together. He wasn't testing it right. He wasn't shaking bottle #2 for 30 seconds like the directions said (API test kit). We did one test his way which showed zero nitrates, then we did the test per the directions and it showed 80 nitrates....so wanted to mention that for any newbies to know how important it is to follow the directions and not always trust the LFS! And he showed me the phosphates (I dont have that in my kit but bought one) which were at the very high end (I forget the number).


One of his customers came in who has been doing this a long time and here is what they thought I should do.


They think the tank is cycling again, probably because the sand got stirred up when I brought the tank home. He thinks I should still do a lot of water changes, but do very small ones...like half a gallon or so everyday. He told me to keep the chaeto in there and also gave me some carbon to go in a bag and put that in the tank. He said beyond that, I just have to let the tank run it's course until bacteria grows enough to handle it all.

As far as the 3 remaining fish and the feather duster worm...he said it's a toss up. I could bring them to the store, but there might be a big shock going from my tank to what's in the store. But leaving them may kill them as well so it's really 50/50. Its kind of a drive for me to get there so he suggested I just leave them.

He can't believe the feather duster is still alive. Im telling ya'll...that worm is a beast! This is him right now....




So do you all agree that's what I should do? Minor water changes daily and just let things go?
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Old 04-13-2010, 07:51 PM   #84
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Sounds like a plan! That's a yes...
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Old 04-13-2010, 11:50 PM   #85
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I have a few more newbie questions I hope ya'll don't mind me asking. Im asking here because I know other newbies are reading and might as well keep it all in one place.

My firefish are breathing heavy now which means the nitrates are getting to them. I expected it, but I did see this article and want to make sure I shouldn't bother doing it.

How to Reduce High Toxic Nitrates Quickly & Efficiently

1. Am I understanding that article right? It basically looks like one giant water change done over a few minutes and they just matched the PH (and I assume the salinity).

2. If the tank is recycling again, wouldn't doing what's in that article just prolong the cycle?

3. Is it worth shocking the fish to try that or just leave it alone and let nature take it's course.

4. When you start a new tank and do the normal cycle, what is it that takes the nitrates back down to 0? Is it the bacteria growth? And is that why you add fish in slowly; so that bacteria has time to grow to counteract the nitrates? (Just trying to understand the cycle better.)

5. In the future, when you add in corals to a tank, do they add to the bioload just like fish do? Do you have to limit the number of them in a tank?
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Old 04-14-2010, 12:39 AM   #86
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Okay, first I would do a normal...small PWC, second the water colume has very little bacteria in it. Most of your bacteria are in your sand and LR.
The only way to reduce nitrates in the normally setup AQ is through PWC's.
The reason you are told to add fish slowly is to give your good bacteria a chance to catchup to the new bio-load. corals add little to the bio-load of your tank.
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Old 04-14-2010, 12:43 AM   #87
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Gotchya....so when you cycle a brand new tank, what is it that takes the nitrates back to 0?
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Old 04-14-2010, 12:46 AM   #88
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I just read that article you posted, I am not to sure a newbie should attempt this as to much could go wrong. You might get the temp. wrong, the salinity wrong, you might not age the new water long enough and so on. It is best to do the water changes like you normally do even if it does take longer to reduce the nitrate level.
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Old 04-14-2010, 01:59 AM   #89
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Gotchya....so when you cycle a brand new tank, what is it that takes the nitrates back to 0?
Water changes.

Normal process is to cycle the tank with nothing living in it. At the end of the cycle, when ammonia and nitrites have spiked and dropped back to zero, you'll have some amount of nitrates in the water. Since there isn't anything living in the tank, you do very large (like 50% to 75%) water changes... not worrying about matching salinity, temp, pH... anything. You keep doing this until your nitrate levels are where you want to start things with, because you'll probably never get them this low again! So preferably, you do water changes until you can't test for anymore nitrates.

Nitrates are normally considered the last step in the nitrification process. Ammonia turns to nitrites, and nitrites turn to nitrates. And then you do water changes to gete rid of the nitrates. If you have oxygen-deprived areas of your tank that harbor yet another type of bacteria, then you can convert the nitrates to nitrogen gas and it will bubble out of your tank. This normally occurs in "deep sand beds", or in other types of setups that use special media to take the nitrates out of the water. Probably beyond what you're wanting to deal with now, but file it away to look into for that new tank.

Bioload, as we're talking here, is pretty much always referring to just fish - things that will create "food" (ammonia) for your beneficial bacteria. Coral doesn't mess with your beneficial bacteria one way or another. Once you get to a certain quantity of coral, it will start to mess with your water parameters though - specifically your calcium, alkalinity, and magnesium levels. It will draw those things (and others) out of the water to grow, and those things need to be replenished. That's either done with those same water changes you're doing for the nitrates, or by adding supplements ("2-part solutions") to keep those levels constant. Depending on your coral stocking levels, and the brand of salt you use, normal water changes can often keep up with the demand from the coral. Another good reason for water changes.

Sorry... more info that you need right now, but figured I'd get it out there so you have more info to digest!

Regarding the fish gasping... not sure if nitrates at 80 is enough to really cause breathing problems, but I've never experienced high nitrates so I don't have any first hand info. Like thincat mentioned, I wouldn't recommend massive water changes. I'm sure you've heard the saying by now, something to the effect of "Nothing good happens fast in a saltwater tank.", meaning be patient and don't expect results overnight. I've also looked at that saying to mean don't make rash decisions or do anything quick in a saltwater tank. There are very few things that need immediate action.

You can safely do 25% water changes every other day, which will take that 80ppm nitrates down to under 20ppm in 4 water changes. You could probably do that 25% every day - as long as you match the temperature and salinity pretty well.

[Edit: Just read that article you linked to. I definitely would NOT try this. One little bit that they casually gloss over is that part where they talk about adjusting the pH in the old water to match the new incoming water. What they don't mention is that this pH adjustment process in itself, can really screw things up. It is really hard to raise pH and keep it there without really messing things up. They also compare nitrate in fish to carbon monoxide in humans. Just my opinion, but from my reading, this is not a fair comparison. Nitrates, at levels "normally" found in our tanks, are not toxic to fish. It's better if it's not there, but it's not going to kill them outright like CO can with humans. If, as they mention in the article, you've let your tank go unmaintained for that long that your nitrates are out of control, then what does it hurt to slowly lower them over the course of a couple weeks as you do smaller water changes? Yes... it's inefficient - but it's way way safer.]
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Old 04-14-2010, 02:25 AM   #90
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Awesome! Thanks so much. (I thought that article seemed off.)


I've done 5 water changes now and the wierd thing is the nitrates havent lowered one teensy bit. Hmmm, I'll test this RO saltwater I keep bringing home to see what's in it. Otherwise I'll keep going slow and see how we are over the next week.

That wasn't overkill on the info. Im still researching for the new tank and you just filled in a bunch of holes I wasnt quite grasping.
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