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Old 06-07-2004, 08:45 PM   #1
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New SW

My fiance and I setup our first saltwater tank this weekend, we have four fresh but wanted to try our hand at marine. The tank is a 20 gallon, we have 10lbs of crushed coral and 10 lbs of grotto rock broken up into caves and walls to break up line of sight. It's got a decent heater set at 82, an Aquaclear 300 and an airstone in back. We got the sg at about 1.021 or so. Our first stock includes two Three Spotted Damsels and a Yellow Tailed Blue Damsel.

My questions are,
How is that for a starting setup?

And

When doing our first water change shoud I Premix the water over night or just add the water and then salt?

Thank for your help.
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Old 06-07-2004, 09:00 PM   #2
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Welcome to AA! Nice to have you aboard. Set up looks pretty good. I would ditch the air stone and get a small power head instead. Air bubbles do not look natual in a SW tank and they can upset your fish. If you are still cycling your tank there is agreat article on this site about doing a "fishless" cycle. Most here now advocate that as it is much more humaine. Besides, those little damsels are mean suckers and very hard to catch when you want to bring them back to the LFS. When you are doing your water changes mix up your SW in a bucket to your desired SG. Then put in a small heater, power head and air stone for at least 24 hours. Recheck your SG before putting the new SW in your tank as this can change with temp. On a related note, you should do water top-offs at least every other day on a tank of that size. Just a little evaporation can really change your water parameters and stress your fish. Make sure your do your top-offs with FW, not SW, as the salt does not evaporate. Adding SW to your top-offs will cause the SG to get way too high. Good luck! Lando
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Old 06-07-2004, 11:36 PM   #3
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With just three fish is a protein skimmer needed?
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Old 06-08-2004, 02:34 AM   #4
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Short answer, no. A skimmer is not needed, only good to have. But, you will need a strict & frequent water change schedule. This will get rid of the doc, basically what a good skimmer does. SW needs much more attention to water quality then FW. I'd say without a skimmer, a water change every 7-10 days of 2-4 gallons (10-20%) would be very good. So you can save a lot of $$ on the skimmer, but you have to change the water often.

You should look at adding some lr for biofiltration and natural reef look. There are inexpensive places online, etc.

After your cycle, when your readings for ammonia and nitrite are 0, you can add some hearty inverts. They make a good cleanup crew. Things like snails, small hermits, shrimp, serpent and brittle stars are excellent. They eat algae and waste. Inverts do not add to the bioload, you can add many.

Also, you may want more cc in there as 10lbs seems a bit low. More cc or sand will give you better ph buffering capacity (ph more stable). I'd go with aragonite sand; it keeps waste up top where you can clean it, cc gets tough to clean.
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Old 06-09-2004, 02:51 AM   #5
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Uh-oh. Came home from work and found one of the Domino Damsels had died, I just figgured it might be aggression, I was looking at the tank when I found a white milky slime covering the back of our rocks, it doesn't quite look like algee. It's thick and it covers a good portion of the back and top of the rocks but not the front. The rock isn't live rock or anything, just plain old grotto rock. The water tested pretty normal, Amm. and Nitrites looked good, PH is between 8.3 and 8.6, does anyone have any idea what this is?
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Old 06-09-2004, 02:55 AM   #6
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Can you get pics? What is grotto rock, that heavy square-limestony stuff?
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Old 06-09-2004, 03:04 AM   #7
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No, I wish I had a camera, they sell grotto rock at my lfs. It's light for it's size and porous, I think it's some kind of volcanic rock. It's grey and has large holes through out it.
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Old 06-09-2004, 09:31 AM   #8
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That pH seems kinda high..

What test kits are you using? I'm not sure how your readings could be fine if your tank has just begun cycling and you don't have live rock. With a relatively high bioload and hardly any bacteria the conditions should be pretty harsh in there right now, so casualties would not be surprising.
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Old 06-09-2004, 10:57 AM   #9
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What are you using to test and what are your exact readings?

I agree with srgetz about the skimmer, but would suggest you get one.

If it was me, I would get rid of the cc and go to all sand.

If your levels are within reason, then it may still be normal to lose a damsel (depends on how the lfs handled them and aggression among the others). Get a grasp on chemical levels before you do anything.

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Old 06-09-2004, 01:00 PM   #10
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We're using the tetra test for fresh and saltwater. I've been doing 10 percent water changes about every 48 hours, so the ammonia has been staying down around .2. What worries me the most is the slime on the rocks. It's semi translucent white and peels off almost like skin.
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