I've looked throughout the forums and I think I've tried most of the things I could find that seem to apply to my problem. Some background: I started a 40 gallon FOWLR
tank in Feb. I cycled the tank with 1- 1/2 inches of crushed coral (at the time I thought I read this was the best substrate, now not so sure!) and 60 lbs. of live rock. The tank cycled and after 8 weeks I bought 3 green chromis and 2 margharita snails. Those snails didn't make it, they kept getting flipped and I didn't get to help them out in time when I was at work. So they bit the dust unfortunately. My levels were good and I got 5 red leg hermits and 3 turbo snails. All doing well so 3 weeks ago I got a royal gamma basslett. The inhabitants are all good but I'm concerned with my water parameters.
My ammonia and nitrites have been at 0 since I cycled. However my nitrates have consistently been at 20 for the last 5 or 6 weeks and I can't get them down. My phosphates are .5, temp 82, salinity .0125. I can't keep the ph up, it keeps going to 7.8 so I am concerned about that. I have some stuff to add to make it 8.2 but I am really leary about adding that to my tank water. I use RO
water that I purchase at a local store and I use Red Sea Coral Pro salt. I had used instant ocean but my lfs
told me this new salt would work better to raise my ph. Hasn't helped one bit. I have been doing a 15% water change ever 3 or 4 days for the last 2 weeks and the nitrates haven't gone down at all. I used to feed 2 times a day (very tiny amounts) but I've cut that back to once a day for the last 4 days. Although I have read that chromis should eat 3 times a day. This week the brown algae started on my live rock and the walls, nothing on the substrate though so far. My calcium is really low, I would eventually like to tackle corals but I know my calcium is too low for that, it is at 320.
Oh, my lights are brand new, I got them 2 weeks ago, Satellite - 65W. I did have them on 10 hours a day the first week as I was hoping to get some stuff growing on my live rock. I've cut that back this week to only 5 hours a day. Forgot to mention I have 2 power heads and a Remora HOB
protein skimmer that I've been running since week 3 or so. Also, I have my old Magnum 350 canister filter (a leftover from my 7 years of freshwater fish I had before I switched over to salt) running with an empty canister at the moment. I had run a small amount of carbon in there for about 6 weeks and I pulled that out last week. Now just running the canister with a filter sleeve on it. I am not sure if I should even run the filter, I do get some gunk on my filter sleeve that I clean weekly. I haven't replaced that sleeve, I have just been cleaning it out regularly. Could that be the problem?? Should I ditch the filter do you think? I do not have a sump.
Any recommendations to improve my water quality??? I am very concerned about these nitrates and yes, I have tested my water source. I've checked my premixed water and that comes back at 0 for nitrates and phosphates. I love this site and I am constantly going through the postings for ideas and advice. I just can't figure out what else to try!
Another newbie question - one of my hermit crabs found the old margarita snail shell that I hadn't gotten out. He moved right into it. (Freaked my daughter out when he did that!) Some of the other hermit crab shells seem tiny as his was. Is it ever recommended to get them larger shells or will their shells grow with them?
Thank you all!