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Old 09-09-2004, 07:05 PM   #1
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questions about water testing results

My new 55g tank has been cycling for about a week and a half and I got my test kit on sunday last week and started testing the water. The ph is pretty stable after I put in some buffer to bring it back up and the nitrates seem to be climbing fast and went from 10 ppm on sunday to 80 ppm today my tester only goes to 100 so if it keeps going like this Im not sure I'll be able to read the results is that okay? How high do they usually go? Also Im having a hard time with the nitrites because the color doesnt match up to the card as nicely as the others do but I think Im around 5.0 which again is as high as it goes, maybe its higher and thats why i cant match them as nice. Also the ammonia has stayed very stable at .5 should it be changing?

Background: It has 2 damsels (I started it based on advice from others before I read about the shrimp method) and about 10 pounds of live rock with a hang on back filter. The specific gravity is 1.024. So far my understanding is that I want the ammonia and nitrites to go zero and do a water change to bring down the nitrates, is that right? Also Im thinking ab out making a sump for better filtration and more volume, will this interupt the cycle?

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Old 09-09-2004, 08:12 PM   #2
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You need to bring those levels down for the fish to stand a chance.. I would do a large water change as soon as possible.

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Old 09-10-2004, 11:40 AM   #3
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Well you have far too little live rock to act as a bio filter...minimum is 1lb per gallon, up to 2lbs per gallon.
Your hang on filter isn't gonna be very helpful in your tank. you need at least 45lbs more live rock (or mix of live and base rock) and a skimmer like a CPR Bak-pak2 or Aqua C Remora. Your filter is a nitrate factory, while skimmers remove nitrate creating gunk.

You need to do some research, as you obviously haven't yet, since you're cycling with fish, and your only good water parameter is the salinity.

Return the 2 damsels, toss in a cocktail shrimp and buy The Conscientous Marine Aquarist by Robert Fenner, so you can get started on the right foot.
Former advisor and planted tank geek...life's moved on though.
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Old 09-10-2004, 04:40 PM   #4
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You've come to the right place for advice, though! It's really common on this board for people to have gotten bad advice from the LFS to cycle the tank with damsels and then they end up here when the fish get distressed. I'm new to SW but have some FW experience and Atari is recommending those water changes because the fish are really in terrible conditions right now.

It sounds like you haven't done any changes during the cycle; that's fine when cycling with LR/shrimp but really, really hard on the fish. Malkore's advice to return the fish is good--can you take them back to the store? That would be best for them. If not, do a serious water change right now (or as soon as you can get the water mixed) and then mix more water because you'll need to do changes every day to save the fish.

FWIW, my QT started a mini-cycle (it had already cycled with LR) when I added 2 clowns. I've been changing 20% of the water every day to keep the ammonia under .25 (it's gone now) and the nitrites under .1. I'm starting to get nitrates, which means I should be able to slow down on the water changes soon (assuming the ammonia/nitrites test at 0). It's a lot of work, but that's what it takes to keep the fish healthy. Good luck!
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1 peppermint shrimp and 1 fire shrimp (very shy)
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3 chromis, too identical to name as yet, in QT
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