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Old 07-27-2004, 12:26 PM   #1
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New saltwater tank...Help!

Hello everyone
This is my first attempt at a saltwater tank. I am curious how long it takes to let the tank cycle before I add my first starter fish. I am planning on adding some damsels and clownfish. Are those fish compatible? At some point, I plan on adding a starfish and maybe a Tang. How long should I wait before I add more? I would appreciate any help anyone can give me.
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Old 07-27-2004, 12:40 PM   #2
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Look through the posts in this forum, myself & a few others have just gone through setting up a new sw tank, see if those threads answer some of your questions?

Also you'll need to post your setup, tank size etc for people to be able to help you on stocking it.

I would suggest you read up on a "fishless" cycle using raw prawns/shrimp as well.

Forgot to add welcome & there are a lot of great people on here that will be able to help & guide you, I know they've helped me a lot...

Finally I was pointed towards this book "The new marine aquarium" by Michael Paletta a very good read for a newbie


Cheers Shelton.
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Old 07-27-2004, 12:57 PM   #3
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My tank is a 36 gallon tank with an emperor 280 pump, a thermal compact 150 watt heater. I used 30 gallons of distilled water, mixed with 15 cups of salt (Instant Ocean). The substrate I used was CaribSea Inc Aragonite reef sand, a 20 pound bag. My current ph level is 8.0 and my salt level is 1.021 and my temp is 75 degrees. I do not know much about nitrates/nitrites, so I was wondering what kits I would need to buy to test it, and when I should? How long my tank needs to sit before I can introduce new fish with all these levels being appropriate? I have NO liverock, just Livesand. I currently have NO fish in the tank. My LFS said I could put damsels in right now and let them cycle the tank for 2 weeks. Is this ok?
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Old 07-27-2004, 02:23 PM   #4
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Sounds like you've got a good start going and you're asking the right questions. First, you will want some test kits for ammonia, nitrite, and pH. For ammonia, I like the tetra test kits but just about any would do. For nitrite and nitrate I like the Seachem kits which many LFS carry. There isn't really a set time for a tank to cycle. Have you added anything to the tank to get the cycle started? You will need something that will produce ammonia ie fishfood, or a raw shrimp. Just toss it in the tank and after 2 days start testing ammonia and nitrite. You should observe a rise in a ammoina followed by a rise in nitrites. Over time the ammonia level will fall and you will be left with mostly nitrite which is toxic. The next step will be the conversion of the nitrite to nitrate. If you are not detecting any ammonia or nitrite then test for nitrates. Once there is no ammonia or nitrites then it is time for a 20-30% water change, monitor the levels for like another week and then it is probably safe to add a fish. This can take a week to a month or more depending on the system.
I would recommend browsing through the articles on this site for info on cycling, fishless cycling etc. There's a lot of info in there. Also, look around for a copy of "The Concientious Marine Aquarist" by Robert Fenner...its the marine aquarium bible with loads of info for beginners.
As far as fish, the damsel and the clown would probably be fine in a 36 gallon. Just keep in mind that both can be territorial. HTH
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Old 07-27-2004, 02:34 PM   #5
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Hello! You've come to the right place for great advice on starting up.. I see your LFS has already tried to encourage you to cycle with damsels. You can indeed do this but it's extremely cruel. Since you haven't decided yet, I would definitely recommend cycling with a piece of raw shrimp instead. Then once the conditions in the tank are good you can safely add fish knowing you didn't put them through such a horrible ordeal.

Do you have any rock in the tank at all? It would be a good idea to put some pieces in so the fish will have a place to hide and feel safe. Then you can add the raw shrimp and sit back and let nature do it's work.

You need to pick up some test kits for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. If possible get Salifert or Seachem as these are reliable brands that are also easy to use.

I would also bump the salt level up a bit to around 1.023-1.024 and the temp to 78.

Once you get the cycle started you'll have a few weeks to do all the research on the fish you'd like to keep. I would say you're probably limited to 3 or 4 with that size tank, and unfortunately a Tang wouldn't be one of those recommended. It would need something close to twice the size of you tank. But you'll have plenty of time to read up on all that so get the cycle started now and go from there!
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Old 03-25-2013, 01:05 AM   #6
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Hello! You've come to the right place for great advice on starting up.. I see your LFS has already tried to encourage you to cycle with damsels. You can indeed do this but it's extremely cruel. Since you haven't decided yet, I would definitely recommend cycling with a piece of raw shrimp instead. Then once the conditions in the tank are good you can safely add fish knowing you didn't put them through such a horrible ordeal.

Do you have any rock in the tank at all? It would be a good idea to put some pieces in so the fish will have a place to hide and feel safe. Then you can add the raw shrimp and sit back and let nature do it's work.

You need to pick up some test kits for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. If possible get Salifert or Seachem as these are reliable brands that are also easy to use.

I would also bump the salt level up a bit to around 1.023-1.024 and the temp to 78.

Once you get the cycle started you'll have a few weeks to do all the research on the fish you'd like to keep. I would say you're probably limited to 3 or 4 with that size tank, and unfortunately a Tang wouldn't be one of those recommended. It would need something close to twice the size of you tank. But you'll have plenty of time to read up on all that so get the cycle started now and go from there!
I recently started a 70 gal 2 days ago .
Starting with filling and mixing salt to 1.024
The temp is 78
I added a 40 lb bag of live sand ,
Is it advisable to start the cycle with only live rock or is a fish ideal ?
What is the best and how long after filling the tank can I start to cycle ?
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Old 03-25-2013, 02:11 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Rmckoy View Post

I recently started a 70 gal 2 days ago .
Starting with filling and mixing salt to 1.024
The temp is 78
I added a 40 lb bag of live sand ,
Is it advisable to start the cycle with only live rock or is a fish ideal ?
What is the best and how long after filling the tank can I start to cycle ?
Best way to start the cycle is to add a cocktail shrimp from the grocer to the tank. They decay easily and add the ammonia source. Add all your live and dry rocks for the cycle that you plan on getting. Don't use fish. The standard go to fish are damsels and it's mean to them and they are mean and hard to catch as well.
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Old 04-02-2013, 07:48 PM   #8
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Best way to start the cycle is to add a cocktail shrimp from the grocer to the tank. They decay easily and add the ammonia source. Add all your live and dry rocks for the cycle that you plan on getting. Don't use fish. The standard go to fish are damsels and it's mean to them and they are mean and hard to catch as well.
I added live rock I purchased .
It had little algae a few pieces of dying coral sponges .
A few hitchhikers like hermit crabs and bristle worms .
I added 2 shrimp and levels are at .
Ammonia : 3 ppm
Nitrate: 40 ppm
Nitrite : 0
Ph: 8.5
How do I know how far along in the cycle I am ?
I used colony nitrifying bacteria too .
How long should I leave the decaying shrimp in there ?
When should I notice bacteria or algae build ?
Thank you
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Old 04-02-2013, 10:00 PM   #9
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Hi all my tank is nearing the end of cycling and today I see a large peice of live rock that is snow white. It's the only piece and I can't find any info about why it turned white I have a hard current from my pump blowing on that rock so it's not powder like undesolved salt. any idea here if it's ok or should I pull it from the tank.
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Old 04-02-2013, 10:06 PM   #10
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You'll eventually need a cheap plastic turkey baster for your tank. Buy it and see if you can blow the sand off with some waterflow. It could be precipitate from the sand mixture. Calcium and carbonates can precipitate out of solution sometimes.
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