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Old 07-12-2003, 01:35 AM   #1
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Newbie Needs Help on Reef Tank Setup....

Hey all, I could really use some help with my reef aquarium, and I thank you for your help in advance.

First, here is my setup, which even now I'm unsure about. I've had some different conflicting advice depending on which LFS I go to.

37 Gallon Tall Aquarium
SeaCone 100 Protein Skimmer (hangs on tank)
Fluval 404 with BioMax and Carbon filter media
Acura 1000 heater
GE 55 Watt 30 in Flourescent Striplight (high output compact)

Here is how I started the aquarium - or how I was told to. I filled the aquarium with the premix of salt, water, SeaBuffer pH and Alkalinity Booster. Once filled, I added probably about 1 1/2 - 2 inches of live sand to the bottom. I then added 2 bottles of FritzZyme #9 Nitrifying Bacteria.
I let it run a couple of days, I then over the course of about 3 days added about 41 pounds of "cycled" live rock. It was in the LFS for a couple of weeks. We saw critters and feather dusters within days.

After about a week we added a Blue Devil Damsel (bad idea). He got very comfortable with his new territory, and when we added 5 more fish (Maroon Clown, Bi-Color Blennie, Royal Gramma, Flame Angel, and Lemon Peel) he tore the Royal Gramma apart almost instantly, so I had to remove him (Gramma) from the tank (The Gramma is recovering nicely).

Ok, now for my questions:

1. Do I have an adequate setup for a reef?

2. I've been reading about sumps, whats the deal with these? Do I need one? What are bulkheads for? Drilling tanks? What!

3. After about 2 weeks, we have no more feather dusters, no tiny critters on live rock. It looks healthy, but no more critters. Did my angels eat them? Do I need critters? Is this normal? I have red lumps on the rock with white hairs growing. What are they, are they bad? How about green bubbles? Is it bubble algae, something else?

4. I've been reading alot about Nitrates and how they effect everything. When I told the LFS that tried to sell me the fancy filter, they said that the Fluval while it is a "good" filter, pumps nitrates back into the tank due to the nature of the filter. They said that they're filter wouldn't do that, is this true? I also read, that if you have enough Live Rock, that the filter media in the Fluval is unnecessary. How can that be? How will you create less Nitrates in the tank if you remove the filter media, biologicals are being broken down either by the live rock or the fluval, why does the fluval produce more? Don't I need the Fluval to filter out chunks of uneaten food and fish waste?

I'm really uncomfortable with everything because I've read so much conflicting advice, opinions, etc... I don't know what to believe. Any advice could be really helpful.

P.S. By the way, does anyone use a Ground Fault Interrupter? Do I need one? I currently have everything on a power strip behind the stand.

Thanks again everyone!
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Old 07-12-2003, 03:18 AM   #2
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You have quite a bioload for such a young tank, the tank will cycle and eventually give you an ammonia spike which could be lethal to your fish. The live rock normally shows some die off when added to a new tank. Keep the testing up to date for ammonia, nitrates and nitrites, ph etc... The fluval should be fine. However a sump can help in several ways, 1. added water capacity 2. added filtration and conversion of nitrates and nitrites to harmless nitrogen. Poor water quality can cause algae growth, hence the need for daily testing of the water. The lighting is fine for a FOWLR setup but if corals are added later, you will want to upgrade the lighting. Many others on this forum are much more knowledgeable than I and will assist I am sure. Good luck.
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Old 07-12-2003, 08:26 AM   #3
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Welcome to Aquarium Advice!

Quote:
37 Gallon Tall Aquarium
SeaCone 100 Protein Skimmer (hangs on tank)
Fluval 404 with BioMax and Carbon filter media
Acura 1000 heater
GE 55 Watt 30 in Flourescent Striplight (high output compact)

1. Do I have an adequate setup for a reef?
Well, yes you could have a reef with the setup you have, minus the media in the fluval. (use it for flow only).

Quote:
Here is how I started the aquarium - or how I was told to. I filled the aquarium with the premix of salt, water, SeaBuffer pH and Alkalinity Booster. Once filled, I added probably about 1 1/2 - 2 inches of live sand to the bottom. I then added 2 bottles of FritzZyme #9 Nitrifying Bacteria.
I let it run a couple of days, I then over the course of about 3 days added about 41 pounds of "cycled" live rock. It was in the LFS for a couple of weeks. We saw critters and feather dusters within days.
This was a good idea. Started off nicely. I don't know about the FritZyme, the LR had enough bacteria on it.. Off to a good start.

Quote:
After about a week we added a Blue Devil Damsel (bad idea). He got very comfortable with his new territory, and when we added 5 more fish (Maroon Clown, Bi-Color Blennie, Royal Gramma, Flame Angel, and Lemon Peel) he tore the Royal Gramma apart almost instantly, so I had to remove him (Gramma) from the tank (The Gramma is recovering nicely).
This is not such a good idea. The tank is nowhere ready for these fish. The tank has to cycle, and in the process of that you stand a very high chance of all of them dying with the exception of the Blue Devil. Needless to say, they are going to suffer. I would see if the LFS will take them back until the tank cycles..another 3 to 4 weeks. I hate to say it, but it sounds like advice from a LFS that lead you to the purchase of these fish, and that it would be ok. My advice would be to read, read, read, and then read, some more. SW tanks require a lot of patience and waiting in the first 6 months.

Quote:
2. I've been reading about sumps, whats the deal with these? Do I need one? What are bulkheads for? Drilling tanks? What!
A sump is a remote source for filtering the water, usually under the tank inside the stand. It requires an overflow of some type, either a hang on tank one, or your tank can be drilled to fit bulkheads and then plumbed to be the overflow. Your tank is filled so drilling is not an option at this time.

Quote:
3. After about 2 weeks, we have no more feather dusters, no tiny critters on live rock. It looks healthy, but no more critters. Did my angels eat them? Do I need critters? Is this normal? I have red lumps on the rock with white hairs growing. What are they, are they bad? How about green bubbles? Is it bubble algae, something else?
This is because of the cycle. You need to invest in a SW test kit and test daily for ammonia, and nitrites. My guess is that the ammonia is high at this point because of the cycle and it is affecting the rock. This will be followed by and even more toxic nitrite high. I am not sure about the red lumps, pictures will help in identifying. Bubble algae is usually green and or mirrored looking...

Quote:
I'm really uncomfortable with everything because I've read so much conflicting advice, opinions, etc... I don't know what to believe. Any advice could be really helpful.
Don't be uncomfortable, it is an exciting hobby, and you learn by doing. There are a lot of conflicting thins out there, but one thing that I haven't seen confict so much on, is the importance of letting a tank cycle before adding inhabitants. Most of this hobby is opinions, however, there are a lot of facts too. You will have to decifer that on your own or with the help of, well, people like us in the forums. Do not let any of this discourage you from attaining the goal of having a successful SW tank.

Groud faults are required by law in most electrical codes when water is to be near a socket. Yes they are very handy to have. Some power strips are GFC's...

PS> Please see if the fish can find a temporary home at the LFS, until your tank is finished cycling.....
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Old 07-12-2003, 11:10 AM   #4
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I will add one other thing, the flame angel and lemonpeel are not a good idea, one, or the other, but definitely not both. The other thing you need to remember is that you have a 37 gallon "tall" tank..technically that is less "left-to-right" swimming room. (would make a great seahorse tank, but they are not for beginning saltwater enthusiasts).
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Old 07-12-2003, 03:37 PM   #5
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Thanks!

Hey everyone, thanks for the responses! See, after I bought the live rock and added the bacteria, we let it go a week. Then we added the Damsel, and let him in there about a week. I have been testing my levels basically everyday, and I have my LFS check them as well. The tank seemed to cycle when we had the Damsel, now for the past week the levels have stayed the same, and they've all been 0 or very close to it. The fish seem to be doing just fine, and I think the tank is cycled. I've already done one partiual water change, and I'm going to do another today. I'm pretty sure that the tank has cycled.

To the person who thought that I do not have enough lighting: What do I need? I told the person where I bought it that I eventually wanted a reef tank, so they gave me this lighting. The other store suggested possibly a new half white/half blue bulb, but not a whole new lighting unit.

Hara - why not both angels together?

Timbo - Why remove the media from the Fluval? Don't I need somethign to filter out wastes like left over food, etc...? Will the LR be enough?


Thanks guys/girls!
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Old 07-12-2003, 07:02 PM   #6
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To keep corals and such, you will need to have low nitrates. As time goes by, the media inside the Fluval, will start to create nitrates faster than the tank can get rid of them. This will also happen by feeding. The LR amount you have is enough for filtration of the whole tank.. I would add a few more inches of sand though. I run a 55 gallon with 90 lbs of LR and that is it. I have a skimmer, but it only runs for a week or so, evry month or so. This would not be advisable this early in the game for you.. The SeaClone skimmer is a good one for the size tank you have..

BTW, It is one of the things in this hobby, LFS's are out to make money and some will sell you 100% more than you need to have a successful tank...

IMO you need another 30" Fixture same as the one you have and in one, use a 10000K bulb and in the other, a 03 actinic. That will give you 110 watts on a 37 gal tank and it should be enough for some soft corals, anemones, and zoos.
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Old 07-12-2003, 07:16 PM   #7
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Say, do you have any bottom dwelling critters like snails and crabs in this tank? These guys are really good at helping to keep things clean.
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Old 07-12-2003, 07:56 PM   #8
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Welcome to AA Mike! When things are right and you start picking out your corals do some research on the corals and make sure they aren't something your angels are going to love to eat, nothing worse than getting a beautiful piece of coral only to watch it be eaten away. We had a false lemon peel and it continually picked at our feather duster, that was it, we gave him back, very hard to do when you have your corals set up and you try and catch a fish! That's why it's best to have reef safe fish if you are going to do a reef.

I've never been much of a reader, but since getting into saltwater I've done more reading than ever! You found a great site to help you!
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Old 07-12-2003, 08:30 PM   #9
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The general old school "rule of thumb" for lighting is a minimum of 4 watts per gallon. With a deeper tank, that is not really sufficient. I actually was in the same boat as you with my first saltwater tank. 4 watts per gallon VHO lighting, 2 Fluval 404 cannister filters. It was not the best way to go by any means. It was a constant battle to keep phosphates and nitrates in check, that also mean the bad algae was blooming its tail off.

As far as the angels, it is generally recommended that you only have one variety of dwarf angel in a tank to prevent fighting. Also, both angels are only borderline reef safe. If you plan on having corals, understand that they may develop a taste for them.
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Old 07-14-2003, 02:18 PM   #10
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Interesting...

About the lighting, what would you suggest? Could I just add another 55 Watt, with a grand total of 110 Watts? If not, what would be my best althernative?

Also, as far as the Fluval is concerned. Have you heard anything about Nitrate scrubbers or Nitrate Remover that I could use in the media baskets?
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