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Old 03-09-2006, 02:21 PM   #1
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In process of setup... various questions

Hi,
I'm in the process of setting up my 29 gallon tank as fish/invert tank. Saltwater is in tank and powerheads are running. Will be adjusting salt levels tonight and adding all live sand. 45# of Fiji LR is shipping Fri to arrive on Sat. I've done a lot of reading (books, articles, and forum) over the last few weeks and now I'm starting to get everything mixed up. I guess I'm looking for best recommendations on a few things.

1) I have AquaClear powerheads. What should I cover the inputs with so fish/critters don't get sucked up?

2) Are water changes needed during the cycle phase or not? I've heard both. If so, what conditions would apply? i.e. what would the ammonia &/or nitrite levels need to get to in order to need a water change?

3) What parameters should I see when the final 40-50% water change is needed at the end of the cycle? Obviously ammonia and nitrite should be zero but what about nitrate?

4) My LFS told me I could use my freshwater test kit for the above listed testing. That doesn't seem right to me. Is this true?

5) Should the skimmer be run when cycling with the LR? Or best to leave off? (using Remora)

6) Best to run lights during cycle or leave off? I've heard advantages and disadvantages of both. Perhaps have them on for 3-4 hours a day only?

7) Can the salt gravity float between the recommended levels? Or is it really important to keep it at one level? i.e. okay as long as between 1.020 - 1.024? Or is there a big difference in these?

8) When all is cycled and I've added my cleanup crew (ordering a pack of about 65 small critters) how long should the lights be on then? 8-10 hours a day? More?

Thank you in advance!!! I want to get this right while I have the chance

Denise
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Old 03-09-2006, 02:38 PM   #2
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Re: In process of setup... various questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by heartsx2
1) I have AquaClear powerheads. What should I cover the inputs with so fish/critters don't get sucked up?
if you can, use a prefilter that fits the suction of the pump. not only will this prevent livestock from being sucked into the filter, but it will provide additional surface area for bacteria.

Quote:
Originally Posted by heartsx2
2) Are water changes needed during the cycle phase or not? I've heard both. If so, what conditions would apply? i.e. what would the ammonia &/or nitrite levels need to get to in order to need a water change?
dont worry about changing the water in the tank during the cycle. all you need to do is top off the tank with fresh water to account for evaporation. dont top off with salt water!

Quote:
Originally Posted by heartsx2
3) What parameters should I see when the final 40-50% water change is needed at the end of the cycle? Obviously ammonia and nitrite should be zero but what about nitrate?
nitrate should be low... do a water change regardless of the actual level.

Quote:
Originally Posted by heartsx2
4) My LFS told me I could use my freshwater test kit for the above listed testing. That doesn't seem right to me. Is this true?
i think that some FW kits will work, but it would be better to get one specifically desinged for SW. there are several kits that you can buy the include all the tests you will need. buying them in a kit, as opposed to separately, will save you some money too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by heartsx2
5) Should the skimmer be run when cycling with the LR? Or best to leave off? (using Remora)
leave it off, there is nothing to skim... definately use the other power heads to ensure the water is circulating.

Quote:
Originally Posted by heartsx2
6) Best to run lights during cycle or leave off? I've heard advantages and disadvantages of both. Perhaps have them on for 3-4 hours a day only?
you dont need lights for the cycle.

Quote:
Originally Posted by heartsx2
7) Can the salt gravity float between the recommended levels? Or is it really important to keep it at one level? i.e. okay as long as between 1.020 - 1.024? Or is there a big difference in these?
you should keep the specific gravity at a constant level. slight fluctuations in the SG are acceptable, but dont let it swing from one end of the range to the other. as the FW evaporates from the tank, the SG will go down slowly, but as soon as you top off with FW, the SG will swing rapidly to the final level. fast changes in your SG are going to cause harm to your livestock.

Quote:
Originally Posted by heartsx2
8) When all is cycled and I've added my cleanup crew (ordering a pack of about 65 small critters) how long should the lights be on then? 8-10 hours a day? More?
technically, inverts and fish require very little light. corals and anemones require high lighting for nutrient production. that said, keeping the lights on while your cleanup crew is living in your tank will allow some algea to grow, providing your cleanup crew with something to eat. if you dont have much algea growth, you can lightly feed your cleaners a few times a week.

have fun, it sounds like you are taking your time and doing the right research... patience is a virtue in this hobby. bad things happen when you go too fast.

~mike
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Old 03-09-2006, 02:41 PM   #3
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Thank you for asking these questions all in one spot as I was going to have to ask them in the next few weeks too.
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Old 03-09-2006, 02:47 PM   #4
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1) Sponges should do the trick, but may people run them bare and count on the fish not being stupid.

2) If you have fish or corals in the tank, you want to keep the ammonia below .5. Otherwise 4 is an idea ammonia level. Higher will still cycle, but the bacteria growth will be stunted by the overly high levels.

3) Nitrate will be measurable, probably high. There is no exact target number, the absence of ammonia and nitrite and the presense of nitrate is proof that the cycle is occuring.

4) Many test kits have a second set of directions or a second color chart for salt. If in doubt, go to the manufacturer's website and read the package inserts.

5) Skimmer usage during cycling is debated. I think it goes along with water changes. Leave it off unless ammonia is going sky-high.

6) Lights during cycling is debated. The most common advice I hear is to leave antinics on, daylights off.

7) Stability is key. Try to keep your numbers stable and not wiggle around. When purchasing new fish, perform a slow drip acclimation, and they will become accustomed to your chosen sg.
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Old 03-10-2006, 12:03 AM   #5
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This is great... thank you very much for your help!

Denise
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Old 03-10-2006, 11:50 AM   #6
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You should probably wait on buying your cleanup crew.. the beginning of the cycle could kill them. Get the rock in there and wait on adding any livestock until the nitrite spike is over.. that's when you will need them.
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Old 03-11-2006, 09:06 PM   #7
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I see it is suggested not to run a skimmer during the cycle phase, but I'm not sure why. mp3z24 wrote - there is nothing to skim. dskidmore wrote - leave it off unless the ammonia is going sky-high. Would there be any problems with running it anyway?

P.S. I just read the instructions for my Remora and it says it has to go through a 1-2 week break-in period, where it will produce bubbles inside the tank. Just thinking this might be a good opportunity to break it in while the tank is cycling... ?
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Old 03-12-2006, 12:17 AM   #8
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It wouldn't cause any real problem, but if you're removing waste before it has a chance to break down, the bacteria won't have as much to feed on, and the cycle will take longer.

It's really up to you when to start the skimmer. It does have to build up a bit of biofilm before it will start working well. It won't hurt anything to run it now.
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Old 03-12-2006, 09:34 AM   #9
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Thank you... that's exactly what I needed to know. I don't want it to take longer to cycle! I think I'll add it later when I add the cleanup crew. Then maybe I just won't add the first fish until it breaks in and is working well.
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Old 03-12-2006, 10:57 PM   #10
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I must take issue with the notion that there is nothing to skim during the live rock cycle. I had my skimmer "breaking in" and it was not skimming anything. I put in live rock and within hours, I noticed it starting to skim. 3 days into my cycle, it is pulling pure blackness out of the water, my collection cup is almost half full!

I am running the skimmer through the cycle, personally...I know it won't speed the cycle, but I can't see how it would slow it down either...here are my thoughts:

If you have 60 pounds of live rock with dieoff, the ammonia level will rise drastically, giving you a huge number of bacteria eating it. Then, there will be a huge nitrite spike, giving you a huge number of bacteria eating it. Then not only will you have a large nitrate spike at the end of your cycle, you will have a huge number of bacteria growing...and then you add....1 fish. 1 fish will not support all those bacteria, and then the majority of them will die. So you grew a large number of unnecessary bacteria, and your nitrate levels are much higher than they need to be...

Wouldn't it make sense to run the skimmer and skim off excessive proteins? Your cycle shouldn't be "slowed" at all, there will just be less ammonia...which will mean less nitrate by the end of the cycle, and an appropriate number of bacteria for the 1 fish you will put in to start?
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