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Old 06-05-2007, 09:03 PM   #1
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Newbie- More Questions Than Answers

I just bought a 55 gallon aquarium over the weekend. I have it currently about 85% full. We added salt and live sand (I think 40 lbs of live sand) The hydrometer I got from the fish store gives a different reading almost every time.

Here is a list of the equipment we have: Odyssea CFS4 cannister filter, Odyssea hydrometer, Jebo 300w heater, not sure the wattage or type of lighting yet.

My questions and thanks a million in advance for your answers:
1. Is my hydrometer defective? I was supposed to fill it for 24 hours with fresh water before using and I did exactly that. It still gives a different reading every time.

2. Should I go with a different hydrometer? Perhaps a refractometer? Whatever that is.

3. I did not use RO for my water. I did use packets for declorinization the fish store gave me. Is not using RO a big deal?

4. Do I have the right/recommended equipment?

5. Does live sand affect the ammonia and/or nitrate levels and how?

6. What are the differences between nitrates and nitrites?

7. What should I do from here to cycle the aquarium properly? I bought some fresh/raw shrimp. Should I first be concerned about the specific gravity and then add the shrimp? Should I check the ph levels before adding shrimp?

8. Should I use or not use the glass covers for my aquarium? I read something I thought about salt build-up on the cover being a bad thing.

9. Do I need to do water changes now with just live sand?

10. What is the best siphon product to buy?
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Old 06-05-2007, 09:25 PM   #2
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sorry I cant answer more questions, but I use a python gravel vac setup for my siphon...
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Old 06-05-2007, 09:58 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blackhorse
My questions and thanks a million in advance for your answers:
1. Is my hydrometer defective? I was supposed to fill it for 24 hours with fresh water before using and I did exactly that. It still gives a different reading every time.

2. Should I go with a different hydrometer? Perhaps a refractometer? Whatever that is.

3. I did not use RO for my water. I did use packets for declorinization the fish store gave me. Is not using RO a big deal?

4. Do I have the right/recommended equipment?

5. Does live sand affect the ammonia and/or nitrate levels and how?

6. What are the differences between nitrates and nitrites?

7. What should I do from here to cycle the aquarium properly? I bought some fresh/raw shrimp. Should I first be concerned about the specific gravity and then add the shrimp? Should I check the ph levels before adding shrimp?

8. Should I use or not use the glass covers for my aquarium? I read something I thought about salt build-up on the cover being a bad thing.

9. Do I need to do water changes now with just live sand?

10. What is the best siphon product to buy?
Here are my best answers:

1&2) All hydrometers are defective . They make decent guesses, but are just that, guesses. If you are filling up your tank, chances are your salinity is changing quite a bit as the salt dissolves and as the water and salt ratio is a little different in each bucket you put in. Temperature also changes the reading on your hydrometer. I definitely recommend getting a refractometer. You can get nice ones for cheap ($40 or so) on Ebay. They give very accurate readings.

3) I will let someone more experienced in RO answer this one.

4) Not familiar with that specific filter, but assuming it is rated for a 55 gallon, that equipment seems fine. The type of lighting you will need will depend on what you want to do with the tank. For reef with clams and hard corals you will need metal halide, costing several hundred dollars. If you are doing fish only, you can get away with a $15 fluorescent light strip from WalMart, and there are many options in between.

5&6) Yes it will. It hosts bacteria that breaks down Ammonia (from fish waste and decomposing foods) into Nitrite. Nitrite is less toxic to fish but is still highly toxic. This Nitrate is then broken down into Nitrate, which is much less toxic to fish, which can be removed primarily through water changes.

7) The shrimp isn't going to change the salinity or the pH, these should be monitored before, during, and long after adding shrimp or anything for that matter.

8 ) I use them and haven't really had any problems. Using egg crate from a hardware store is a popular option. The problems with glass tops is that it blocks light if dirty, prevents proper gas exchange which can negatively effect pH, and it is a little more expensive, but it does look a lot nicer. The biggest problems with egg crates are that they are ugly, and that they can cast shadows in the tank.

9) During the cycling process you won't need to do water changes until the water has finished cycling.

Hope that helps.
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Old 06-05-2007, 10:58 PM   #4
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Wow...that is a lot to tackel in a singel thread but I will do my best...
Quote:
1. Is my hydrometer defective? I was supposed to fill it for 24 hours with fresh water before using and I did exactly that. It still gives a different reading every time.
pleae refer to my post in that your other thread.
Quote:
2. Should I go with a different hydrometer? Perhaps a refractometer? Whatever that is.
I suggest you get a refractometer. Hydrometers measure SG and are very inaccurate. Refractometers are OPTICAL devices that measure salinity. Many have dual gages that do both salinaty and SG. Well worth it.
Quote:
3. I did not use RO for my water. I did use packets for declorinization the fish store gave me. Is not using RO a big deal?
In a perfect world, RO/DI water is the very best thing you can do for your tank. It really depends on the quality of tap water in your area. Tap does vary form area to area but without a doubt RO/DI water is the best.
Quote:
4. Do I have the right/recommended equipment?
That depends...what do you plan to do with the tank? Canisters are not the best option for SW tanks. If you plan on using a good substrate such as LS and plenty of LR then it will be fine. If you plan on using it for your primary filtration source then more research will be in order.
Quote:
5. Does live sand affect the ammonia and/or nitrate levels and how?
Hmm...yes and yes. Using LS will help you develope a good bacteria base for biological filtreation. It is the prefered subsrtate for keeping NO3 low. However, a properly cycled and stocked tank is your best defense against NH3.
Quote:
6. What are the differences between nitrates and nitrites?
NO2 is the product of NH3 consumption. NO3 is the product of NO2 consumption. NO3 is the end product of the nitrogen cycle. Both NH3 and NO2 are very toxic to liestock. NO3 is much less toxic but can be harmful in large amounts.
Quote:
7. What should I do from here to cycle the aquarium properly? I bought some fresh/raw shrimp. Should I first be concerned about the specific gravity and then add the shrimp? Should I check the ph levels before adding shrimp?
You should set up your tank wtih any substrate, filtration and LR you plan on using. Adding the shrimp will certainly help initial your cycle. Ph is not much of a conern during the cycle process.
Quote:
8. Should I use or not use the glass covers for my aquarium? I read something I thought about salt build-up on the cover being a bad thing.
I am not a fan of glass tops. They greatly reduce gas exchange and can lead to Ph issues. They also can effect temp. I would go without as long as you have a way to keep your lighting fixture elevated off of the water.
Quote:
9. Do I need to do water changes now with just live sand?
You should not need to do water changes while the tank is cycling. You should top off the tank with FW as needed to compensate for evaporation.
Quote:
10. What is the best siphon product to buy?
Ther are several on the marker. I like the "self starting" type because they are a bit eaiser to use.
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Old 06-05-2007, 11:01 PM   #5
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I just ordered a refractometer online and should get it in the next few days. Since I don't know the specific gravity, should I wait to add the shrimp? (to start the cycling process). I also purchased a Ph kit- should I also test the Ph before adding the shrimp?
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Old 06-05-2007, 11:03 PM   #6
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please do not post the same questions in different forums.
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Old 06-06-2007, 10:01 AM   #7
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Merged topics and deleted duplicate questions.
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Old 06-06-2007, 11:35 AM   #8
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You can add the shrimp now and adjust the salinity as needed. The ammonia shouldn't start to raise until about day 3-5. I wouldn't even worry about testing your pH during the cycle. You may want to invest in a Saltwater Master Liquid Test Kit or the reefmaster one if you are planning on going reef.
I just use airline tube for my siphon, you know, suck on one end and hope I don't get too much in my mouth! LOL!
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Old 06-06-2007, 02:05 PM   #9
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Merged topics and deleted duplicate questions.
Thanks Micah! I was strapped for time last evening.
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Old 06-06-2007, 10:30 PM   #10
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