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Old 03-17-2011, 10:56 PM   #1
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New to salt water

Hello to all,
I have had a few simple fresh water tanks in the past with pretty good success. I had always gotten bored with what was available at the local fish stores. It has been a few years and, the bug has bitten me bad this time. I decided to make the leap and go for salt water. I bought a small full setup. It is a 20gal tall. It came with 10lbs of live rock, live sand, salt water, filter, heater, hood, light, and thermometer. I bought a water testing kit, hydrometer, scrubber for the sides, and siphon for cleaning. We are planning on getting 2 captive bred seahorses (h. erectus I believe), 2 harlequin shrimp, maybe a peppermint shrimp for the aiptasia, and maybe some sort of other critter. Basically, I want to try to make it as reef like as possible but, I have to keep the majority of the wee sea beasties interesting or else I will lose interest.
Also, I have a cycling question. I set up the tank 4 days ago. The water chemistry results have been rock solid. They are as follows: pH 8.1, alkalinity 4.5meq/L?, nitrite 0 ppm, nitrate 10ppm, free ammonia 0ppm, total ammonia 0.01ppm, temp 72F, specific gravity 1.025. As I understand it, cycling is basically the establishment of groups of living organisms who's byproducts are fodder for the next group until you end up with nitrogen. I have been assuming that the increase and subsequent decrease in concentrations of ammonia, followed by, nitrite, followed by nitrate were due to the increase of the organisms that feed on those byproducts multiplying in number due to the available food until the populations reach equilibrium (of sorts). So, what am I to interpret from my water test results? Especially if they continue this trend for the next week or so. It seems to me that people like to throw out cycling a tank like it is a magic phrase. So, how does one know when their tank is cycled?
Also, does anybody have any suggestions for tank mates? Thanks to all in advance for taking the time to read this!


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Old 03-18-2011, 01:27 AM   #2
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Hey just wanted to welcome you to the site, I just joined too and am learning so much. I personally don't know about salt water yet but everyone on here seems super friendly and your sure to get your answers Theres a bunch of forums dedicated to saltwater & reefs, if you check it out or post your questions there you'll get answers in no time =]

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Old 03-18-2011, 09:20 AM   #3
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Welcome to AA!
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Old 03-18-2011, 09:23 AM   #4
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Hi there! Welcome to the forums.

I also wanted harlequin shrimp, but do you know what you have to feed them? They lost their appeal after I found out. LOL

Either way, this is a great forum so ask away!
180g Reef - 60g Rimless Reef -90G FOWLR- 125g Malawi Cichlids- 40b REEF- 34g Fresh Planted-working on- 20L FOWLR- working on
I have a mix of many different saltwater fish amongst my tanks, but I love my Tangs most of all.
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Old 03-18-2011, 09:45 AM   #5
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Welcome to AA. Your water parameters will spike. Ammonia will rise. Nitrite will rise. Soon after those levels will fall to zero. Once that happens. You will be ready to rock and roll. What are you using as your ammonia source?
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Old 03-18-2011, 10:23 AM   #6
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+1 Carey
Harlequin shrimp need a very specific diet of starfish alone. From what I understand they are hard to keep but beautiful
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Old 03-18-2011, 03:36 PM   #7
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Read up more on the fishless cycling as well. You didn't mention adding a source of ammonia (either raw shrimp or pure ammonia from a bottle or something). You will need to get the ammonia up to about 3-4 ppm to get the cycle really going. Once you can dose up to 3-4 ppm and have it gone the next day then you can consider the cycle complete. This can take some time (weeks) so please be patient.

I don't know about the shrimp but I have been told the sea horses are more difficult to keep. Please read up on them as well. I think most of them like low flowing currents. I think a 20 tall should be a really good tank for them!
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Old 03-18-2011, 11:02 PM   #8
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Thanks to all! I have been doing a bunch of reading on the critters I want and, I have done some more reading on the fish less cycling. I don't mind feeding them starfish. The LFS sells small feeders at 4 for $1. Seems pretty reasonable to me. I plan on my next tank being for a peacock mantis. I saw one on discovery channel when I was about 10 or so. I've wanted one ever since.

I have started adding raw shrimp to the tank. I will continue monitoring the tank feverishly... I can't help it. I have been using this cycle time to try and figure out what I need to tweak or change. I'm thinking of using a refractor to in stead of a hydrometer. That contraption just seems a little dodgy. I also have concerns about my filter setup. I'm kinda wishing I had gone a little bigger and set up a sump and refugium. Oh well, we shall see.
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Old 03-19-2011, 05:00 AM   #9
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Well you can alwys add a sump in the future!

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Old 03-19-2011, 06:59 PM   #10
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What it the best way to go about adding a sump and rufugium? Should I set them up separately, cycle them, then slowly cut it in so everything can acclimate? I am new to forums...so, if there is some sort of thread or something here already, please let me know!

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