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Old 02-13-2006, 04:21 PM   #1
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New Guy, New Guy Problems, and Hello

Hello,

I am the new guy, nice to meet you all.

I purchased a 90 Gal bowfront Oceanic tank, with 30 Gallon Sump, G3 Skimmer, a Tunz, 2 sea Swirls and few other things. A complete setup, the system was used and found it on Ebay. I also have a metal Halide lighting set up with 3 250w metal Halide lamps, two on the blue side and one 20k in the center. All my Live Rock and Live Sand was established prior to me putting it together. I am having a few issues that maybe some of you could offer some insight on since this is my first Saltwater tank. I filled it with Water last tuesday 2/7.

- My skimmer is overflowing even on the lowest level. On my first fill I used tap water to make the sea water and used some water conditioners because it was tap water. I plan on doing several water changes once I get my RO/DI set up. I suspected (and still do) that the reason the skimmer is overflowing with a lot of foam was because of the water conditioners, however after almost a week it doesnt seem to be getting better. How long should I continue to suspect that the water conditioning is causing the problem?

- Im getting a lot of bubbles in the water. I think part of this might be attributed to the skimmer issue, are there other ways to get better control of bubbles in the tank? Will raising or lowering the return pipe or restricting the return flow help solve this problem? It seems that combination of the return into the sump and the overflowing skimmer is creating "suds" in the sump.

- All my Amonia/Nitrate/Nitrite test are reading 0, and the Ph is just a bit lower than ideal. I expected the "cycle" to start already since the rock and sand were live and well to start with, also Ive been priming the tank with Biozyme. Is it even remotely possible that since the tank was already established days before I set it up (all I theoretically did was put water in it) that I am actually towards the end of the intial cyle instead of the beginning? Am I correct to expect that the Amonia should have shot up by now (6 days) as an indication that the cycle is starting?

- Ive read very different things on how much "light time" the tank should get during this stage, ranging from 5 hours a day to 12. Any thoughts?

Thanks in advance for any helpful insight on my skimmer, bubbles, and the biological filter cycle. I also put 3 cheap $1.50 each crabs in the tank on thursday just for kicks (writing them off as expendable), but to my surprise they are very active and still alive. I have also noticed a couple tube worms on the rock that are sticking their "feathers" out (a sign of healthyness?).

Baxter
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Old 02-13-2006, 06:26 PM   #2
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Skimmer: Is the skimmer in the sump? You may be able to put something under it, and raise it further out of the water. This can effectively lower the water level inside, depending of course on your skimmer model. Many skimmers have an ideal depth that they work best in.

If there was any crud in the tank, it may be getting disoved and pulled out by the skimmer too. Even if it was taken care of before, breaking down the old substrate before the move could have realsed built up organics. Do whatever you can to collect that extra waste, as it will only foam up again next time it moves through the skimmer.

Bubbles: There are a couple ways to handle it. The easiest is to put a sponge in the way of the bubbles, this will slow down the larger ones and encourage them to go up instead of following the water through the sponge. The best method is a bubble trap. Three vertical pieces of glass or plexi that go the width of the sump so that the water goes over the first one, under the second, and over the third. This really encourages those bubbles to come out before they get to the return pump. Also make sure your return pump is entirely submerged and there are no leaks in the return line.

Cycling: Try putting a raw shrimp from the grocery store in there. If your ammonia levels stay at 0 as the shrim rots, you're golden. If your ammonia levels go up, then there was never enough dead material on the rock to start your cycle. I'm suspicious that your nitrate is 0, usually only really mature tanks that have refugiums or other special systems in place manage that after the cycle is complete.

If you're going to have a fish only tank, then the shorter light period is best. If you're going to grow corals, you want to lean towards the 12 hour end of the spectrum.

Sounds like you have everything off to a good start! Once you've either proven your cycle is complete, or actually cycled, a load of snails and hermit crabs will be in order.
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Old 02-13-2006, 08:28 PM   #3
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When i was using tap water my skimmer would go nuts with the chlorine remover.Just Dump the skimmer cup and restart .Do this until it stops.
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Old 02-14-2006, 12:32 AM   #4
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Hi Thanks for the replies,

Yes the skimmer is in the sump. I have lowered the water as low as it will go without raising it, I will try dumping the cup a bunch of times and then try raising the pump even higher, my thought however is that I shouldnt have to raise the skimmer because It should be running right at a higher level than it is now - as the second person mentioned I think its because of the chlorine remover.

My sump has one of those dividers, the water goes in where it is skimmed and then goes under a verticle sheet of glass like you mentioned to the return pump. I dont think I could fit a 3rd peice in and still have room for the skimmer, its pretty tight in there. I dont think there is any leaks in the line, and pump is definately submerged. When you say place a sponge, do you mean underneath where the water empties into the sump?

I think that the tank is now just starting to cycle, after I got home tonight (after posting my original post) I detected some low levels of amonia, also there was a snail in the sand that had died. I am assuming that a dead snail would have the same effect as a shrimp. I too was suspicoius that it was too easy. Should I still add a shrimp to help the process along? The snail is decent size and about the same size as shrimp.

Re: The Lighting, it is going to be a reef tank however I heard that it might be better to use shorter lighting cycles during the cycling period, and heard other people say its better to put it into its full day/night cycle right from the start. Since the rock is previously cured and has algae on it, is it better to give it the full light cycle to feed the algae, or only like 5 hours of light so that the bacteria grows better in the dark? (or am I just totally off on the whole thing)

To be honest, I am kind of releived to come to teh conclusion that my tank is not done cycling becuase that was too easy and I want this to be healthy, I dont want to rush anything.

I get my RO/DI unit by the end of the week and will start my water changes with good water soon.

Thanks,

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Old 02-14-2006, 09:12 AM   #5
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A dead snail would not give you a cycle. Was the tank already set up when you purchased it? Took it down, moved, and set up again? I'm a bit confused since you say your rock and sand was already established. Was the rock dry or in the tank? Could you explain the set up and its origin further? We may be able to help you anticipate better. Also, what else is living in the tank - other than the snail that died?

For my reef, I have 3 powerheads with a Wavemaster Pro. It alternately turns the the PHs on and off to simulate a nutral reef with ebbs and flows - I guess you could call it that. Got a "feed" button too which turns all 3 off for 10 minutes of feeding. Nite mode for calm flow while they sleep for about 8 hrs - same time every nite. Might check into that. Also, try Eric Borneman's "Corals" book too as you plan what you're gonna have.

Good luck.
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Old 02-14-2006, 09:35 AM   #6
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Sponge: The skimmer will create a ton of bubbles even when working properly, so the place to put the sponge would be your return pump intake.

Cycle: If your ammonia level climbs to 1 or above, you don't need to add the shrimp. If it stays lower than that, you want to add the shrimp for insurance. It is possible to complely cycle a tank with lower ammonia levels, but this way you can be confident that it is firmly established enough to handle things if a fish/crab/snail/coral dies.

Lighting: The purpose of lesser lighting during cycling to to encourage the coraline algae, and supress the green and brown algaes. Some people take out the daylight bulbs and only run the antinics during cycling. Supposedly bluish light is best for coraline growth, and the whiter light for green/brown algae growth.
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Old 02-14-2006, 09:46 AM   #7
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Having second thoughts. Could you post a picture of your sump?

What pump are you using in there? How many GPH do you think it's pushing? You might benifit from a slower pump if you have a good bubble trap and the bubbles are still making it back up the return line. Is your return line submersed in the display tank water? You can generate more bubbles if the water is squirting down into the surface instead of a submerged return.
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Old 02-14-2006, 01:41 PM   #8
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Hi All,

Thanks again for all the replies, Im really looking forward to doing this the right way and only have some experience with Fresh Water.

I will post a picture of the sump after I get home from work tonight.

Was the tank already set up when you purchased it? Took it down, moved, and set up again? I'm a bit confused since you say your rock and sand was already established.

-- Yes the tank was up and running with live rock for several months - so the rock and sand was in this very same aquarium and was fully cured. The aquarium was fully cyled prior to this break down and set up. When I purchased it, the previoius owner took broke the tank down, put the sand and rock in a rubbermaid half full with water and then I set it up again and added new water. It took 3 days to get teh plumbing and everything done and refill the tank. The rock was mostly submerged and wet during that period, and the sand was fully submerged.

Also, what else is living in the tank - other than the snail that died?

-- I beleive the previous owner took any livestock out prior to breaking it down for me to pick up. I think the Snail just happened to get missed. I found him buried in the sand as I was putting the sand in the tank and he was nearly dead then. So there was nothing else really in the tank since I have had it (except I added 3 $1.50 tiny crabs last thursday, which are still alive). I am however, finding tube worms that have come out of the rock and are using their "feathers" - dont know if this indicates anything.

What pump are you using in there? How many GPH do you think it's pushing?

-- I can get the exact kind when I get home from work, but it is a 1200 GPH submersable pump. I have two sea swirls hooked up to my return which are both submersed in the display tank. They are placed on either sides of the tank and can be seen in the picture above. I also have a Tunze for creating surge which I have not put in yet. The Tunz has the different surge patterns like you described with your wavemaster, and it also has a feeding timer built in to the controls.
There has also been a new development - this morning as I was on my way out to work I notices that overnight a brownish substance has developed over the sand and rock, and there appears to be an alot of green algae as well. Is this the brown/green algae you were speaking of? I will submit new pictures when I get home, and since this substance has appears so quickly, I would imagine by the time I get home it will be a lot more.

Last night the snail had a film over it, looking just like pictures Ive seen of shrimp in the "rotting" process. In my infinate wisdom I turned the snail shell over and to my surprise the snail carcuss fell out of the shell and peices of snail spread around. I think that this new brown/green is a result of that action. I really hope that in doing so I did not introduce something harmful, and I hope that maybe this is just an indication that the cycle is really "starting".

BTW - You guys are great, thanks for all the help. Its good to know that there is a helping community available for new guys like me. Ill have new pics tonight -- based on what I described should I remove the snail carcuss?
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Old 02-14-2006, 01:57 PM   #9
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I'm not sure you'll see a cycle from what you've described. But still watch your ammonia over the next few days. May have a mini cycle, in that the ammonia won't go up high at all, just enuf for what small organisms that may have died off during the move.

Mu guess would be that if the ammonina doesn't go up after 4 or 5 days in your home, that it won't have a cycle and you may be able to start adding fish and a clean up crew (hermits, snails). Of course a water change or two since the move would be in order too. Ammonia needs to be at zero. Got a plan for stocking fish? What kind of reef compatible fish you targeting?

I'd remove the carcass.

BTW, welcome to AA!!!
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Old 02-14-2006, 02:06 PM   #10
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It is possible that you will not see a cycle at all, since the rock was taken decent care of during the transfer process. I'd throw the raw shrimp, or some excess fish food in and watch to make sure ammonia stayed at 0 to be sure.

That pump will give you really great movement in the aquarium, but your sump is alot smaller, so the current is stronger with the same GPH, and that is why your bubble trap is not working so well. If there is space inside your stand, your best option is to upgrade the sump, or drill it and plumb it to a second sump where you can put additional buble traps, maybe a refugium, and the return pump of course. If that sounds like too much, the sponge trick or downgrading the pump are your best bets to get rid of bubbles.

Bubbles are not harmful except to sponges. If there are no sponges growing on your rock, you can probably just not worry about it for now.

The dead snail won't hurt anything while you're testing to see if the tank is cycled. After you get fish in there, it's a good idea to remove dead animals when you find them.

The film in the tank is usually part of new tank syndrome. Keep up the good work, and hopefully around the time your skimmer stops overproducing, the algae will recede. Hermit Crabs and Snails will eat that stuff up, so as soon as you've proved to yourself that the cycle is in place, pick up a few dozen of each. (Rule of thumb, one "janitor" per gallon.)
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